Month: April 2007

Microfinance is a tool, not a poverty alleviation program

Sreya SarkarResponse to “A Second Look at Microfinance: The Sequence of Growth and Credit in Economic History,” by Thomas Dichter

Microfinance is a mechanism or a practice of providing financial services on a very small scale such as credit, savings or insurance, to the poor. It is a field being thoroughly investigated by academicians and policy analysts because it has the potential to become an important instrument in poverty reduction. Yet, microfinance is not a direct poverty alleviation program. It also calls for a paradigm shift in our perception of the capabilities of the poor. (more…)

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School Choice Should Be about Students, Not Buildings

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The mix of traditional school closures, charter school openings, and transfers out of neighborhood schools in Portland is prompting some serious debate about school choice. The district has now surveyed transferring students and found that very few did so because they were dissatisfied with their neighborhood schools. Many simply wanted other choices, like special programs not offered close to home.

But is Portland’s relatively liberal transfer policy undermining some (more…)

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Sometimes a Little Magic Happens: Public Testimony on HB 3010

Matt WingardCascade Commentary


Public policy advocates often find that spending extended periods at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem can lead to growing cynicism about the public process. But every once in a while, you experience something that restores your faith in what you do. April 5, 2007 was one of those days. I traveled to Salem with a delegation from Portland to testify in support of House Bill 3010. (more…)

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Sometimes Magic Happens

Matt WingardThursday, April 5, 2007, was a great day for me personally. I was very proud to be a part of this hearing, which you can listen to here (starting at 1:36:50):

A mostly African American delegation from Portland traveled to the Oregon State Capitol to testify in support of House Bill 3010, the Freedom to Choose My School Grant program. The bill would create a pilot project to allow 1,000 low-income students to take the state funding for their education and go to any school, public or private in Portland.

The bill got a hearing because State Rep. Betty Komp (D-Woodburn) believes that low-income residents of Portland deserve an opportunity to be heard, and she chairs the House Subcommittee on Education Innovation. (more…)

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Don’t gamble on state police

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Funding for the Oregon State Police has been so scarce in recent years that most parts of the state have no troopers on duty during entire eight-hour shifts. The 665 troopers we had in 1979 have fallen to just 285 today.

The state police are struggling because we’ve expanded the scope of government far beyond anything contemplated when our state was formed, and far beyond what is healthy for our citizens. Now, less than two percent of the entire (more…)

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Testimony on HJR 28 before the House Revenue Committee on using Lottery funding for the Oregon State Police

Steve BucksteinGood afternoon Chair Barnhart and members of the Committee. My name is Steve Buckstein. I’m Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland-based think tank that promotes individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity in Oregon.

Currently, less than two percent of the All Funds budget is spent on the State Police. We spend only about eight percent on all public safety, including the prisons and courts. We spend twice that much, 16%, just administrating state government.

The Preamble to the Oregon Constitution proclaims (more…)

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Testimony before the House Transportation Committee on bills to ban cell phone usage while driving

Steve BucksteinGood afternoon Chair Beyer and members of the Committee. My name is Steve Buckstein. I’m Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland-based think tank that promotes individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity in Oregon.

I’m here to question the necessity and effectiveness of all the bills before you today that seek to ban certain uses of cell phones while driving.

I think everyone agrees that cell phones have opened up wonderful benefits to our society. Most of us also agree that they have also introduced some risks. Unfortunately, politics is not a very good tool for (more…)

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Preserve the beauty and make it rich

Sreya SarkarQuickPoint!

Oregon presently has eight destination resorts that employ approximately 2,100 people. Destination resorts are a boon for cash-strapped rural Oregon counties, especially after the collapse of the timber industry. Five more resorts are expected to develop in central Oregon that would generate an additional 1,500 resort jobs.

Jefferson County has amended its zoning ordinances to allow (more…)

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Recycling Police on Aisle Nine

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The Oregon legislature is about to create a new entitlement program for consumers. HB 2626, which passed out of the House Environment Committee this week, will mandate recycling centers for televisions, computers, monitors, and other electronic products. The program will be free to consumers and the service must be convenient to people in every county in Oregon. If it is not, manufacturers of those products may be required to provide door-to-door pick-up of used products to ensure that they are recycled.

In the lingo of environmental regulation, this is known as (more…)

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Testimony on HB 3010: Freedom to Choose My School Grant Program

Kathryn HickokMy name is Kathryn Hickok, and I am director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland. Since 1999 CSF-Portland has provided privately funded partial-tuition scholarships to the children of Oregon families whose income is low to moderate. 29% of families currently participating in our program live in Portland neighborhoods directly affected by HB 3010. Some of the parents whose children receive our scholarships are here today. Others regret they are unable to leave work or school to be here. I am including their letters and comments with my written testimony.

CSF-Portland is a partner program of the national Children’s Scholarship Fund. Our mission is to maximize educational opportunity at all income levels by offering tuition assistance for needy families and promoting a diverse and competitive education environment. As far as I am aware, CSF-Portland is the only program in Oregon providing scholarships to (more…)

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Testimony of Matt Wingard In Support of HB 3010

Matt WingardMy name is Matt Wingard and I appreciate the opportunity to testify in support of HB 3010. I am Director of the School Choice Project for Cascade Policy Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan policy research center based in Portland. Cascade works to advance individual liberty, economic opportunity, and personal responsibility.

House Bill 3010 is the product of an 18-month outreach effort in the North and Northeast Portland minority communities. In September, 2005 we began hosting monthly meetings in Northeast Portland to hear the concerns of parents and students in and around the Jefferson High School Cluster. We spent many hours listening to longtime residents and (more…)

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Is "Single Payer" a dirty word?

Steve Buckstein

When Sally C. Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco gave invited testimony* before the House Health Care Committee last Wednesday, she briefly commented on the major health care reform bills before the legislature. She noted that all of them had the potential to devolve into a single payer system like the one she is so critical of in her native Canada.

Committee member Rep. Ben Cannon challenged Ms. Pipes, arguing that since none of the bills actually mentioned “single payer” that she might want to be more careful with her use of language. She responded by reiterating that whether or not they actually contained those words, their flawed approaches to health care reform could inevitably lead to a single payer system.

The very fact that a legislator seemed so concerned with keeping “single payer” out of the discussion may mean that those in favor of such a system have concluded that the public won’t go for it. Good news, if it’s true.

*Listen to the entire hearing. Ms. Pipes testimony occupies the first 23 minutes, then two state workers testify, then Ms. Pipes and the state workers answer questions beginning at 34:30 into the hearing. This portion of the hearing ends at 59:00 into the two hour session.

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