Year: 2009

Testimony for House Bill 3300House Sustainability and Economic Development Committee

Cascade Commentary

Background

House Bill 3300 instructs the State Workforce Investment Board to develop a plan to promote the growth of green jobs. The bill also requires the Economic and Community Development Department to develop criteria for and make recommendations about promoting green industries, technology, and innovation.

Listen to Todd’s testimony at 1:25:26-1:27:47 on this audio file.

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Testimony for House Bill 3155House Environment and Water Committee

Todd WynnCascade Commentary

Background

House Bill 3155 will require consumer-owned utilities (COU) to establish local conservation, energy efficiency programs, and carbon reduction or avoidance programs within the utility’s service territory. (more…)

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Testimony of John A. Charles, Jr.Regarding the proposed DEQ budget

John A. Charles, Jr.
Cascade Commentary

April 15, 2009
Overview
 Environmental trends over long periods of time matter more than measurements at any given moment. Also, pollution per unit of economic output is the key to measuring economic sustainability. Listen to John’s testimony at 42:08-46:20 and his answer to questions by Representative Cannon at 50:15-52:51.
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Testimony of John A. Charles, Jr.Regarding SB 580-6

.John A. Charles, Jr.Cascade Commentary

April 15, 2009
As a member of the Oregon Road User Fee Task Force, I support the policy direction of SB 580-6. The construction and ongoing maintenance of highways, tunnels and bridges should be financed through direct road user fees, collected via electronic tolling technology.

Listen to John’s testimony at 22:14-26:14 and 27:48-30:17 on the audio file.

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“Education Does Come First, Doesn’t It?”

Kathryn HickokQuickPoint!

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“There must be a better answer than killing the online charter school movement,” declares the editorial board of the Medford Mail Tribune (“Education Does Come First, Doesn’t It?,” April 3, 2009). Unfortunately, killing online charter schools would be the likely effect of Senate Bill 767, which had a public hearing last week. And kids in rural Oregon would be some of the biggest losers. (more…)

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Testimony for Senate Bill 80-3Senate Environment and Natural Resources CommitteeApril 14, 2009

Todd WynnCascade Commentary

Click here to read the full report in PDF format

Senate Bill 80 Amendments

Senate Bill 80 (Oregon’s cap-and-trade bill) has been amended significantly since it was first introduced in the session. The bill no longer includes the ‘trade’ part of the cap-and-trade program. SB 80-3 is seemingly a hard cap bill meaning all facilities that emit greenhouse gases (GHGs) and fall under regulation are mandated to develop a GHG reduction plan to meet the state’s reduction goals.
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Market Intervention Overkill

Todd WynnCascade Commentary

Click here to read the full report in PDF format

Summary: Many bills have been introduced in the 2009 legislative session to promote renewable power in Oregon. Although subsidies already exist, new incentives are being proposed to use more renewable power and to value the “clean” energy it produces. Despite these subsidies, solar and wind power still generate only a small fraction of the state’s energy; and the cost of renewable power remains significantly higher than traditional energy sources. (more…)

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Government Gas Detectors

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

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Oregon legislators surely know that this recession has led to a slower housing market than most of us can remember. So why are some of them trying to dampen home sales even further?

House Bill 3450 would prohibit transferring the title to a single-family dwelling or multifamily housing that has a carbon monoxide source (i.e., a furnace or gas fireplace) unless the dwelling is equipped with a carbon monoxide detector. (more…)

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Why I’m Not Gloomy About Our Economic Future

Bill ConerlyCascade Commentary

Click here to read the full report in PDF format

Summary: The U.S. has survived much worse policies and attitudes than our current economic crisis. A country can take many setbacks before it crumples, so here are three action steps I recommend in planning for the future. (more…)

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A Sign of the Times

Jeff AlanQuickPoint!

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The MADE IN OREGON sign atop the White Stag building is a Portland Waterfront icon. Every Christmas, the lighting of the red “nose” is carried live by all the television stations and has become a local tradition. The sign read “White Stag Sportswear” until 1997, when it was changed to “Made in Oregon.” Now the latest owner, the University of Oregon, wants to change the sign, too. (more…)

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Education Tax Credits Can Save Oregon Money

Christina Martin
Cascade Commentary
Click here to read the full report in PDF format

Summary: House Bill 2754 would create two education tax credits, one for families’ own out-of-pocket education expenses and another for donations to scholarship-granting organizations for low-income or disabled students. According to a fiscal analysis by Dr. Eric Fruits, HB 2754’s tax credits have potential to save money for the state of Oregon. (more…)

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Fiscal Impacts of Proposed Educational Tax Credits

By Eric Fruits, Ph.D.

Executive summary
Currently, Oregon parents of public school children who need extra tutoring or other assistance are not reimbursed for that expense. In addition, many low-income parents or parents with children with disabilities cannot find public education alternatives that meet their children’s demands and cannot afford educational options available from private schools. In response to these gaps, Cascade Policy Institute proposes two tax credits to help support efforts to make educational opportunities more affordable to Oregon families.
Click here to read the full report in PDF format

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Economic Development: The Effective Answer to Climate Change

Todd WynnQuickPoint!

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Although global temperatures have only increased a mere 0.6 degrees Celsius (1.1 degrees Fahrenheit) in the past century, unproven computer-generated scenarios of drastic events such as rising sea levels, food shortages, spread of disease, and economic turmoil due to global warming have overwhelmed politicians and citizens alike. (more…)

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Testimony on SJR 29

Steve Buckstein

Reject transferring billions of dollars from
the private to the public sector
March 12, 2009

Chair Burdick and members of the Committee, my name is Steve Buckstein. I’m Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit public policy research organization based in Portland. Our mission is to promote policies that enhance individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity in Oregon. (more…)

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A New Day for a Cleaner Election

Jeff Alan
Cascade Commentary
Click here to read the full report in PDF format

 Summary:  Last fall Cascade Policy Institute identified 1,209 deceased Oregonians who were still active voters according to the Oregon Voter Registration List. Cascade identified at least 32 who “voted” in the 2008 election. HB 3433 is designed to correct many flaws in the current election process that allowed this to happen. (more…)

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Free-Flow Driving over the New Columbia River Bridge

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

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Political leaders from Oregon and SW Washington agreed last week to build a 12-lane bridge over the Columbia River to replace the I-5 Interstate Bridge. The new facility will be financed in part through tolls, collected electronically at travel speeds via tolltags. (more…)

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Cap-and-Trade in Oregon: A Primer for Legislators and Citizens

Todd Wynn

Introduction

Climate change, and how to deal with it, is literally one of the hottest topics in state and national public policy. Because astonishing news sells, media coverage on climate change focuses on exaggerated claims of future catastrophe and proposes economically devastating “solutions” that may have no effect on global climate at all. (more…)

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If School Choice Were a TV Show

Kathryn Hickok
QuickPoint!

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From most of the reporting on the subject of school vouchers in the mainstream press and from comments by politicians and teachers’ union officials, you would think by now someone would have premiered a new TV show called “Fear Factor: School Choice.” But the argument that vouchers would make public schools worse is like the monster in the bedroom closet. It isn’t real, but many people are too afraid to open the door to find out. (more…)

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Cap-and-Trade’sTrue Ability to Curb Global WarmingIs Not So Hot

Todd Wynn

Summary: The decision to regulate greenhouse gases is based on the premise that reducing human-emitted greenhouse gases will turn down the global thermostat and mitigate the damages associated with global warming. Although ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals are well established for Oregon, there has not been a serious discussion about the possible measurable benefits that would arise from pursuing these goals.
Click here to read the full report in PDF format

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Reject transferring billions of dollars from the private to the public sector:What’s wrong with SJR 29

March 3, 2009

As a member of the Task Force on Comprehensive Revenue Restructuring representing taxpayers, I must express reservations about Senate Joint Resolution 29 which seeks to amend the Oregon Constitution to, among other things, direct income tax kicker money into the Rainy Day Fund.

I agree with the Task Force consensus that establishing more reliable forecasting and more prudent budgeting is a worthy goal. I do not agree, however, that the state is the best repository for ending balances under the new forecasting method. That money rightfully belongs to the individuals and corporations who earned it. (more…)

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HB 2500 creates a searchable government transparency website showing Oregonians everything they want to know about state taxes and spending.

Steve BucksteinTestimony before the House Committee on Rules in favor of House Bill 2500 The Taxpayer Transparency Act
February 25, 2009

Chair Roblan and members of the Committee. My name is Steve Buckstein. I’m Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit public policy research organization based in Portland. Our mission is to promote policies that enhance individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity in Oregon. (more…)

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Karma Neutral: We do good deeds, so you don’t have to!

If they can do it with carbon, why can’t we do it with karma?

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Tax Reform Vision Goes Up In Smoke

Steve BucksteinCascade Commentary

Summary:

The Task Force on Comprehensive Revenue Restructuring was charged with developing a blue print for a state and local government tax system. But Portland pollster Adam Davis has shown that public negativity on government and politics is now higher than it has been in 30 years. Oregon voters do not trust government or politicians to get things right. (more…)

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A Convention Hotel by Any Other Name…

QuickPoint!

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City of Portland officials have proposed developing a new stadium in the Rose Quarter for the Portland Beavers baseball team, hoping to attract a major league soccer team to the Rose City.

Meanwhile, the Ambridge Event Center (located directly across from the Convention Center and the Rose Quarter) has been purchased by a subsidiary of the Schlesinger Companies, with a view toward future development of the property. (more…)

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Making Health Insurance More Affordable

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

[audio:QP021809.mp3]

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As the Oregon legislature risks making matters worse by creating a brand-new health care system for us all (HB 2009), there are some small changes legislators can enact now that will make a real difference.

One way to give Oregonians more insurance choices is for the state to give its own employees the same ability to choose a Health Savings Account as federal employees have. (more…)

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Expanding a Broken System Only Widens the Cracks

Christina MartinCascade Commentary
By Christina Martin

Summary

The Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act, tacked onto the current version of the proposed federal stimulus bill, provides an incentive to states to modify UI to ameliorate some of the system’s more publicized inadequacies. However, true UI modernization requires real innovation, not more of the same. (more…)

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SB 168: Allows State Agencies to Open Facilities for the Generation of Electricity

Todd Wynn
Testimony for Senate Bill 168
Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee
Todd Wynn
February 12, 2009

Senate Bill 168 allows state agencies to construct and operate facilities for the generation of electricity and allows certain agencies to purchase renewable energy certificates.

Although seemingly harmless, this bill has vast implications and could significantly increase the cost of energy for state agencies. (more…)

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Money for Nothing: The Illusion of Carbon Offsets

Todd Wynn

Because cap-and-trade programs and other wide-ranging carbon emission reduction strategies rely heavily on offsets to reduce compliance costs, Cascade Policy Institute audited the leading offset provider in Oregon, the Climate Trust. This report takes a close look into the Climate Trust’s offset portfolio and shows that numerous problems undermine the quality and true effectiveness of the organization’s purpose.

Click here to read the full report in PDF format

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“Global Warming Crisis: Cancelled”

Second New York conference of global warming skeptics announced, expected to draw up to 1,000 scientists and experts

The organizers of a March 2008 conference that brought together more than 500 scientists, economists, and other experts on global warming today unveiled plans to hold a second conference on March 8-10, 2009, once again in New York City.

The 2009 International Conference on Climate Change will serve as a platform for scientists and policy analysts from around the world who question the theory of man-made climate change. This year’s theme, “Global Warming Crisis: Cancelled,” calls attention to new research findings that contradict the conclusions of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. (more…)

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Bailing Out School Choice

QuickPoint!

[audio:QP021109.mp3]

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The time for an education tax credit is now. As the economy suffers, even more families are struggling to afford the best education for their children. A $1,000 tax credit for your own children’s K-12 education expenses, or for donations to scholarship programs for children in low-income families would ease the burden on many Oregonians in these tough economic times. It would also increase parents’ ability to choose the best education for their children.

One state representative recently commented that considering the anticipated budget shortfall, this would be a terrible time to create an education tax credit. The truth, however, is that the legislature’s priorities lay elsewhere. (more…)

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Testimony for SB80: Implementing a Cap-and-Trade Program in Oregon

Todd Wynn
Testimony for Senate Bill 80
Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee
Todd Wynn
February 5, 2009

Senate Bill 80 directs the Environmental Quality Commission to adopt by rule a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade system to achieve greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. The Oregon version of a cap-and-trade program would be one part of the Western Climate Initiative’s (WCI) regional cap-and-trade program.

There are many problems with implementing a cap-and-trade program in Oregon, but the main issue is that it would create excessive economic burdens and provide little or no environmental benefit. A cap-and-trade program for the state is truly an “all pain, no gain” strategy. (more…)

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Food Stamp Recruitment is not an Economic Development Strategy

Cascade Commentary
By Shirley Iverson and John A. Charles, Jr.

Summary

Over the past decade, Oregon has had some of the highest participation rates for federal food aid in the nation. The reason is that state agencies and “anti-hunger” advocates have aggressively recruited people into the food assistance program, a callous approach to government aid that fosters a lifestyle of government dependence among those most in need of self-reliance skills. (more…)

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Testimony for SB76: Regarding the Removal of the Klamath Dams

Todd Wynn
Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee
Senate Bill 76: Regarding the Removal of the Klamath Dams
Hearing is February 3 at 3 pm

Testimony for Senate Bill 76
Todd Wynn
February 3, 2009

 My name is Todd Wynn, and I am Cascade Policy Institute’s climate change and energy policy analyst. Cascade Policy Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization that focuses on state and local issues in Oregon and has been active in the state since 1991. My research focuses entirely on Oregon public policy that involves energy, climate change and environmentally related issues. (more…)

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Public Opinion Polls Express Doubt about Global Warming

Todd WynnQuickPoint!

[audio:QP020409.mp3]

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With a new president and a fresh batch of state senators and representatives in Salem, there is a lot of discussion on what to do about global warming. Because state and national public policy is overly focused on reducing greenhouse gases for the sake of “saving” the climate, a couple of national polls have been released assessing public opinion on the topic of global warming. It turns out that addressing global warming with public policy is not a top priority. (more…)

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Obama’s Stimulus Plan: A Plan Without Stimulus

Cascade Commentary

At the cost of $819 billion, the current House version of the Obama Stimulus Plan is more than twice as costly as the much-reviled Iraq War to date. Passage of a stimulus plan, according to President Obama, is an urgently needed and critical step to a rapid recovery. In fact, as I argue here, the Plan is simply a standard-issue spending program masquerading as stabilization policy, and unlikely to provide useful stimulus.

Why Fiscal Policy Doesn’t Work

If Nobel-laureate economist Milton Friedman were still alive today, he would be shaking his head in dismay at the current version of Stimulus Plan. Dr. Friedman, whom I had the pleasure of knowing, was a strong skeptic of the usefulness of fiscal policy as an economic stabilization tool. Fiscal policy (the use of changes in government spending or tax revenue collection to influence the economy) has both fatal theoretical flaws and weak empirical justification. (more…)

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Oregon’s Carbon Offset Scam

Todd WynnCascade Commentary

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Summary

Because cap-and-trade programs and other wide-ranging reduction strategies rely heavily on offsets to reduce compliance costs, Cascade Policy Institute audited the leading offset provider in Oregon, the Climate Trust. The report, Money for Nothing: The Illusion of Carbon Offsets, takes a close look into the Climate Trust’s offset portfolio and shows that numerous problems undermine the quality and true effectiveness of the organization’s purpose. (more…)

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Win $10,000 for your Children’s K-12 Education!

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

[audio:QP012809.mp3]

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Do your children attend a private school or a charter school? Do you home school them? Would you like to make such a choice if you could afford it?

Our recent poll found that 87 percent of Oregonians would like more school choices for their children. If you’re one of them, now you can tell everyone (more…)

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Regarding Management of the Elliott State Forest

John A. Charles, Jr.

Testimony of John A. Charles, Jr.
President & CEO

Regarding Management of the Elliott State Forest
January 26, 2009

The Oregon Constitution requires that Common School Trust Lands be managed for maximum revenue over the long term in order to support K-12 schools. In 1992 Oregon Attorney General Charles Crookham reviewed this mandate and wrote, “Non-economic factors maybe considered only if they do not adversely affect the potential financial contribution to the Common School Fund.” (more…)

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Conceptual Approaches to Road Finance Reform

John A. Charles, Jr.

Roads should be funded primarily by user fees. However, it is not necessary to collect pure user fees for every mile traveled in the state. Adequate funds could be raised if the most heavily traveled highways were self-financed through user fees, and the remainder of the road network continued to rely on fuel taxes and local revenue sources.

Proposal

I. Convert all or part of the State Highway System to a turnpike using standard electronic tolling technology (transponders and overhead gantries). The SHW system represents only 13% of all roads, but accounts for 60% of VMT. (more…)

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SB79: Requiring Energy Performance Certificates and Increased Building Efficiency Codes

Todd Wynn

January 22, 2009

Testimony before the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Senate Bill 79, Requiring Energy Performance Certificates and Increased Building Efficiency Codes

Todd Wynn
Climate Change and Energy Policy Analyst, Cascade Policy Institute (more…)

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Oregon: No Country for Good Ideas

Sreya SarkarQuickPoint!

[audio:QP012109.mp3]

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In a 2007 national seminar, Cascade Policy Institute’s Wheels to Wealth program promoted the idea of allowing jitneys to replace low-ridership public buses. A form of mass transit, a jitney is a car or van which is not required to run on a fixed route and schedule. Cascade followed this proposal with a publication on jitneys, which was widely circulated within TriMet but then quickly rejected by the transit agency.

Now West CAP, a community action agency in Wisconsin, is taking up the jitney idea. (more…)

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Oregon and Washington, Disconnected

Jeff AlanQuickPoint!

[audio:QP1-14-09.mp3]

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Once again, Oregon has been cut off from Washington, due to flooding in Centralia that closed I-5 by January 8. The loss of commerce for each day the highway remains closed is estimated to be in excess of $4 million. In the December 2007 flood, property damage alone in that area exceeded $1 billion. (more…)

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Extending Unemployment Benefits or Extending Unemployment?

Sreya Sarkar Cascade Commentary

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Summary

The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act (H.R. 6867) expands unemployment benefits to up to 59 weeks in Oregon. Unfortunately, paying workers not to work longer helps neither the economy nor workers, who (more…)

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The Convention Center Hotel: A Perfect Storm of Bad Planning

Jeff Alan Cascade Commentary

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Summary

Metro wants to spend over 200 million dollars building a Convention Center hotel in Portland, a project that cannot possibly be financially sound over the lifetime of the hotel. Metro and the City of Portland should reject this proposal. (more…)

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Why Singapore Retires Securely

Sreya Sarkar Cascade Commentary

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Summary

Singapore’s Central Provident Fund is based on individual savings and building assets, unlike the American Social Security system. Singapore’s national philosophy, “nothing should be free,” has encouraged free-market strategies and individual responsibility, a good model for American social policy. (more…)

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Nearly Nine out of Ten Oregonians Would Opt out of Regular Public Schools

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Where do Oregonians send their children to school? Where would they send them if they had the choice?

Right now, 91 percent of Oregon families send their children to a regular public school – usually the one chosen for them based on where they live. But a new public opinion survey reveals that nearly nine out of ten Oregonians would opt out of regular public schools altogether if they could. What schools would they choose? (more…)

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Nearly Nine of Ten Oregonians Would Opt Out of Regular Public Schools

– Survey Results Find Strong Support for School Choice Among Democrats, Independents, Republicans –

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Steve Buckstein
Cascade Policy Institute
Tel.: 503-242-0900
Fax: 503-242-3822
E-mail: steven@cascadepolicy.org

Contact: Joe DiLaura, Director of Communications
Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
Tel.: 317/229-2128 or 317/645-8614
E-mail: joe@friedmanfoundation.org

Nearly nine out of ten Oregon residents would send their children to private, charter, or virtual schools, or educate their children in a home school setting if they had the decision-making authority, according to the results of a public opinion survey released (more…)

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