Month: May 2007

“Workfare” Calls for Mobility of Low-Income Workers

Sreya SarkarCascade Commentary

Summary

Low-income workers need access to higher-skilled jobs to increase their income and independence. Addressing their real-life transportation needs will help post-TANF individuals transition into the mainstream workforce with stability and permanence. (more…)

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Be wary of funding “Mess Transit”

Steve BucksteinTestimony before the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development on HB 2278 A authorizing lottery bonds for transportation projects

Chair Johnson 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.
As the attached Sunday Oregonian article discusses, the kinds of public transit projects this bill may fund, especially in urban areas, are a poor use of scarce public transportation dollars.

Light rail, contrary to popular belief, carries relatively few (more…)

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The politics of light rail pork

Steve BucksteinAlthough the phrase “light rail” wasn’t even mentioned in the hearing, it seemed to be the elephant in the room today when the Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development of the Joint Ways and Means Committee met to move forward a $100 lottery bond measure to fund transportation projects throughout Oregon.

As introduced in the House, HB 2278 would have required that at least 15 percent of the funding be allocated to each of five regions described in the bill. But when the bill reached this committee, the 15 percent number had somehow been reduced to (more…)

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A small dinghy of sanity in a roaring sea of legislative excess

Steve BucksteinFrom the 1840s through the 1860s more than 80,000 pioneers walked beside their covered wagons along the Oregon Trail from Missouri to Oregon. They came for progress. They came for opportunity. They came for freedom. The journey was long and dangerous. Some never made it, dying along the way.

Now, some legislators have mixed up preserving the physical path they followed with preserving the ideals which propelled them to make their harrowing journeys.

By a 23 to 6 vote, the Oregon Senate passed SB 823 A that would stop ALL development, including (more…)

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Testimony before the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on SB 823 A, prohibiting development along the Oregon Trail

Steve BucksteinGood afternoon Chair Roblan 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.

The pioneers walked 2,000 miles from Missouri, risking life and limb, to build a new life for themselves and their families in the open west. Some never made it, dying along the way. The Oregon Trail was all about progress. It was all about opportunity. It was all about the right to (more…)

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One Vote Short: House Education Committee Votes on HB 3010

Matt WingardCascade Commentary

Summary

One third of the legislature supported the Freedom to Choose My School Grant bill in the first year that we attempted to lobby at the state capitol. A number of others expressed off-the-record interest in our attempts to bring more choices to low-income and minority parents in Portland. Few bills get this kind of support during their first legislative session. (more…)

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Don’t tarnish Oregon’s pioneer spirit

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Oregonians sometimes forget how we got here. The Oregon Trail was an important predecessor of today’s Interstate Highway System. From 1841 to 1869 at least 80,000 pioneers walked beside covered wagons from Missouri to Oregon. They traveled over mountains, across deserts, and forded raging rivers to build a new life for themselves and their families in the open west. Some never made it, dying along the way.

Now, a bill before the legislature would tarnish their (more…)

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One Vote Short

Matt WingardHouse Education Committee votes on our school choice proposal

On Friday, May 11, 2007 supporters of House Bill 3010 convinced the House Education Committee to vote on the issue of giving low-income minority parents a choice in their child’s education.

Using a procedural motion, we attempted to amend HB 3010 into a Senate bill (SB 334A) being considered by the Committee. Both School Choice Working Group board member Esther Hinson and I testified on the amendment.

We reminded committee members that drop-out and reading failure rates continue at alarming rates within (more…)

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School Choice Saves Children and Money

Kathryn HickokQuickPoint!

Last week the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation released a landmark study showing that the twelve school choice programs currently operating around the country have saved state and local budgets a net of $444 million dollars since 1990.

“School choice saves,” said Robert Enlow, executive director of the Friedman Foundation. “It saves children, and now we have empirical evidence that it saves money. In the face of $444 million in savings, another excuse to deny children a quality education has vanished before our eyes.”

Critics of school choice often claim that (more…)

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Clean sweep or consumer rip-off?

Steve BucksteinWhile waiting to testify on another bill before the House Consumer Protection Committee, I listened to testimony in favor of a bill which would require anyone who cleans or inspects chimneys in Oregon to be licensed as a general contractor (SB 605).

A representative of the State Fire Marshall supported the bill and told the committee that over the last eight years there were 4,689 reported chimney fires in the state, nearly 600 a year.

I then asked to testify in order to clarify whether this bill would really protect consumers, or the chimney sweeps. Here’s a summary of my comments:

I reminded the legislators that they sit on the Consumer Protection Committee, not the (more…)

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Testimony before the House Consumer Protection Committee on SB 118A, imposing price controls in a disaster

Steve BucksteinGood afternoon Chair Holvey 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.

Imposing price controls to protect consumers is one of the worst things government can do in an emergency. Rapidly rising prices signal those outside the affected area to conserve scarce products, and they signal producers to ship more of those products into the affected area quickly. Price controls short-circuit these signals, turning a natural disaster into a political one.

Let me give you just one example of how this bill might backfire and (more…)

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Don’t Pork-Barrel Microenterprises

Sreya SarkarCascade Commentary

Summary

Microenterprises have much to offer to the poor in this country, but only if they take root in a natural way and are not imposed on the poor like other poverty reduction programs. Microenterprise is very different from the usual government-led poverty reduction programs and can only thrive in a deregulated and decentralized economic environment. (more…)

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The Tax Burden of the Working Poor (and a way to help)

Bina PatelCascade Commentary

Summary

Protecting the earned income of low-income families is a proven method of concretely reducing poverty and increasing economic equity. The Earned Income Tax Credit, first enacted in 1975, encourages individuals to remain employed rather than depend on unearned income such as welfare programs. Within the asset building field, it is essential to advance the concept of “making work pay” via public policies and community programs. (more…)

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Community-led housing solution

Sreya SarkarQuickPoint!

Homelessness has become a pressing concern in Central Oregon. The number of people without a permanent home there has increased by half in the past year. More than 2,000 people are presently staying in shelters, on the streets, in their cars or camping out in Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook Counties.

Though 79% of the homeless households are employed, the most common reason for this homeless situation is (more…)

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