Make Oregon the Opportunity State

By Eric Fruits, Ph.D.

Oregonians blame Californians for many of our state’s woes. They drive up our housing prices, crowd our roads, and import nanny-state policies like banning plastic bags, plastic straws, and styrofoam cups. Many Oregonians wish they’d just go back home.

But what if the Golden State stopped sending us their residents?

The short answer: We’re toast. Over the past two years, Californians accounted for about half of Oregon’s population growth. Their college degrees hide Oregon’s dismal public education system. The business they bring with them fuels employment growth. And, their incomes provide the tax revenues for Salem’s never-ending expansion.

If all that stopped, Oregon would be done for. But will it stop? It might. Oregon’s a nice place to live, but nice only gets you so far. They’re moving here because California has gotten so bad. If Oregon continues to fall into Golden State levels of dysfunction, Californians looking to leave may decide Texas, Arizona, or Nevada are better places to raise their families and grow their businesses.

I fear that day may come sooner than we’d like. Oregon taxes have skyrocketed, our public schools have stagnated, and the public sector has rolled back crucial services. Oregon lawmakers should enact public policies that promote economic opportunity at all income levels, increase choices in education for Oregon parents, and foster a robust culture of entrepreneurship. That will make our state a great place to visit, live, and work for our current and future residents. If we don’t make Oregon the opportunity state, we’re toast.

Eric Fruits, Ph.D. is Vice President of Research at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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  1. Avatar for Stacy Williams

    Stacy Williams

    5:53 pm - February 13, 2021

    Dear Eric Fruits,

    I was relieved when reading your article, “Make Oregon the opportunity state.”

    As a recently relocated Californian, I am amazed that there is an existing culture here that believes ‘we’ are ruining Oregon. I truly never imagined moving to Portland from Coos County (of all places excluding BIPOC professionals and California transplants) would prove harder to obtain gainful employment.

    I am a very humble but competent professional. I notice countless opportunities where I could ameliorate behavioural health systems in Portland. I have very specific, unique training and experience that are years ahead of the curve but I cannot buy a job! I apply for two or three positions a week and have had very few interviews.

    I was hired 3 months after relocating to Coos County – I have now been unemployed for one whole year in Portland. We relocated to Portland because I was often told I wasn’t welcome in Coos County by other agency professionals.

    Some of the processes Portland’s behavioural health agencies still employ are terribly outdated yet they’re saying the right things. This screams to us ‘California transplants’ how much our skills are needed here and how much we can serve this beautiful city. Thus a perfect place to relocate, right?

    From trauma informed care, diversity, equity, inclusion and leadership development training, I observe countless possibilities I would certainly take to the next level efficiently and effectively. I want to work, I love to be of service and I am exceptional at what I do. There certainly isn’t a lack of opportunities for us here, there seems to be a total disregard for our unique and trailblazing skills we bring with us – as well as countless prejudice and overt exclusions to overcome.

    As a woman of color leaving Coos County seeking employment, inclusion, diversity and equitable ACTION – perhaps I have chosen wrong again.

    Best Regards

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