Blog Posts

A fine-tooth budgetary comb

QuickPoint!

On September 9, Alabama voters rejected a $1.2 billion tax increase. Some 67 percent of voters just said no.

This past January, Oregonians said no to a “temporary” three-year income tax hike when they (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

Freedom to trade promotes peace

QuickPoint!

When goods don’t cross borders, armies will, warned 18th Century French statesman Frederic Bastiat. In light of September 11, Bastiat’s warning should be updated to include terrorists. The freedom to trade and peace are interconnected. This link is important to remember, especially as you read about the WTO’s Fifth Ministerial Conference in Cancun (Sept. 10-14).

Throngs of protestors in Cancun will attack (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Is Oregon Really the Hungriest State in the Nation?

John A. Charles, Jr.

If numbers don’t lie, Marie and her two little boys should be going hungry. A high school dropout at 17, she became pregnant, got married, and had a second child all by age 19. She separated from her husband at 20. She brings home $500 a month as a receptionist for a garden products company.

Now 22, Marie (not her real name) has lived in more than half a dozen apartments and houses in east Multnomah County during the past five years. Until recently she relied on public transit, which limited her job options. Last year she bought a small Geo that her day care provider sold at a discount. (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Takin’ it to the streets — again

QuickPoint!

What do you think about the recent politician-approved three-year “temporary” state income tax increase? Regardless of your answer, you’ll likely get the chance to speak your mind at the polls.

Citizens for a Sound Economy-Oregon and the Taxpayers Association of Oregon are working to place (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

Stop the highway slaughter

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The tragic deaths of eight young firefighters this week on Highway 20 near the Idaho border was a grim reminder of how unsafe many of Oregon’s roads are. While other states have fully integrated networks of high-speed turnpikes or parkways, Oregon’s highway system — if one can call it that — is a hodgepodge of interstate highways, country roads, and urban arterials.

Impatient drivers treat these thru ways as if (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Regulation leads to blackouts

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Advocates of government regulation are crowing over last Thursday’s biggest-ever electricity blackout in the Eastern United States and Canada. They mistakenly blame electricity deregulation.

Apparently, power flows in the region’s connected transmission systems became dangerously (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Oregon spendaholics must learn fiscal responsibility

QuickPoint!

The Statesman Journal has a counter on its website tallying the taxpayer burden of our legislators’ budgetary gridlock. With each day the Legislature is in session the cost continues to rise. Currently the cost is nearing $4.6 million. This is a staggering sum, but the true fiscal damage results from how much legislators continue to spend.

The governor’s revised budget shows that (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

PERS reforms are not "forcing" people out

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The mass exodus of Oregon public employees—due to pending changes in the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS)—has become a news diet staple. The August 4 Oregonian headline was typical: “PERS changes cause bailout.” The story featured several long-time public employees who are reluctantly retiring in their mid-50s so they can collect their pensions before legislatively mandated changes take effect that would reduce their benefits.

For employees who had planned to work into their 60s, early retirement is (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

Peaceful revolution and recalling politicians

QuickPoint!

John F. Kennedy once remarked, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Think seriously about JFK’s words as the recall effort against California Gov. Gray Davis continues.

Oregon voters passed an initiative 95 years ago that helps (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Now Playing: Tax to the Future

QuickPoint!

Why should doing something that is legal today land you in jail tomorrow? It shouldn’t, and the framers of our U.S. Constitution made that abundantly clear.

Article 1 Section 9 reads, “No … ex post facto Law shall be passed” by Congress; Article 1 Section 10 declares, “No State shall … pass … any ex post facto Law …” The Oregon Constitution Section 21 concurs, “No ex post facto law … shall ever be passed …” There can be little doubt that (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

An alternative to tuition increases

QuickPoint!

The Oregon Board of Higher Education approved a change that allows state universities to charge students based on the number of credits they take. Schools can now raise fees for students taking heavy course loads.

Opponents of the higher fees pointed to the (more…)

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Categories: Education

Lincoln County schools clean up

QuickPoint!

Salem-Keizer School District board members just learned that they could have reduced expenses $2 million a year by contracting out bus services to a private company. That’s the good news.

Unfortunately, the district committee that studied the private bids did not notify the school board about the potential savings; rather, it recommended (more…)

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Categories: Education

Euphemisms and American Revolutions

QuickPoint!

Former Oregon Gov. Vic Atiyeh just testified in Salem about fixing the state’s tax system-that’s a euphemism for increasing taxes. He told legislators, “We are not elected to make only the easy decisions.”

First things first, Oregon government has a spending problem, and legislators have already (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

A qualified teacher in every classroom

QuickPoint!

A June 22 Oregonian story reported that a significant number of Oregon middle school teachers will probably not meet the definition of “highly qualified,” as outlined in the federal No Child Left Behind act. To meet this requirement teachers must have taken significant coursework, or passed a standardized exam, in their teaching area.

The failure to put qualified teachers in classrooms in Oregon and other states is (more…)

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Categories: Education

Oregon’s Animal Farm

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The legislature and governor have signed off on reforms to Oregon’s extravagent Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). The next chapter in this saga is whether legislators will stay in the very system they created and are now trying to rein in.

Under PERS our legislators are treated the same as (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Metro Brew: More pork, less mobility

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

On June 12 a powerful Metro committee, JPACT, will decide how to spend $53 million in federal gas tax money. This tax is paid by Oregon motorists, laundered through a bureaucracy back in Washington, D.C., then returned to Oregon as “flexible funds” to be spent on any transportation project Metro approves. Although motorists paid the taxes, they will receive almost no benefits.

JPACT is what’s known as a (more…)

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Categories: Transportation

Roughing the kicker

QuickPoint!

A move is afoot in the Oregon legislature to increase taxes by watering down or eliminating “the kicker.” We the people placed the kicker into the Oregon Constitution in 2000. When tax dollars taken from us exceed two percent of budgeted revenue, hardworking Oregonians get a bit of their money back to buy their kids shoes or pay for medicine.

The push to tinker with the kicker comes from a (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Productivity and benefits: The missing education links

QuickPoint!

A recent document from the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA) trumpets that schools have been more effective at “controlling pay” than has the private sector. This line has already been repeated by state legislators, but it is misleading for a variety of reasons.

First, in the private sector increases in wages are a (more…)

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Categories: Education

Pass a tax, reject an opportunity

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Multnomah County voters just approved Oregon’s only local income tax, primarily to help schools. The 1.25 percent three-year tax is on top of Oregon’s already high 9 percent state income tax. Voters clearly value education, but this new money will largely benefit the teachers’ union, not the students. Rather than help the schools in a positive way, the new tax will allow the school system to avoid doing two things it must eventually do: control spending and become accountable for learning outcomes.

First, supporters of the new tax failed to recognize (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

Another wild pitch: Sports teams and economic development

QuickPoint!

Proponents of a taxpayer-supported baseball stadium in Portland argue it and a team would generate significant economic gains for the city, if not the state. Terrific! But, wait a minute, if the benefits are such a sure-thing, how come private investors aren’t lining up to invest their own money?

The reluctance of private investors to put their money where home plate is points to (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Business collects taxes, but doesn’t pay them

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

As Multnomah County voters make up their minds about the new county income tax measure, newspapers are printing letters to the editor pro and con. One misguided writer said he’s voting no because only people will be taxed, not corporations.

There is plenty wrong with Measure 26-48, but (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

Zoning: It’s all about power

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Wilsonville Mayor Charlotte Lehan and Metro President David Bragdon are both complaining. Why? Because state legislator Jerry Krummel (R-Wilsonville) has introduced a bill that would expand the urban growth boundary by 520 acres immediately north of the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville. The reason for the legislation is that construction of the prison destroyed the value of nearby land for residential development, but local officials refuse to re-zone the land for industrial use. Thus, eight landowners now have property that is nearly worthless.

Lehan and Bragdon argue that the (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Be aware of choices during Hunger Awareness Week

QuickPoint!

According to a United States Department of Agriculture survey, Oregon is the hungriest state in the country. This ranking prompted Gov. Kulongoski to name April 27 through May 3 “Hunger Awareness Week.” But, there is reason to be skeptical of Oregon’s status.

To start, according to other USDA sources, in terms of (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

The Mythical World of Transit-Oriented Development: Light Rail and the Orenco Neighborhood, Hillsboro, Oregon

John A. Charles, Jr.

Executive Summary

During the past decade, Portland-area planners have embraced Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) as the dominant land use/transportation strategy. They assert that TOD, especially based on light rail, will reduce traffic congestion, increase transit use, improve air quality, and attract private investment.

Dozens of TODs have been constructed in the Portland region since 1990, with several winning national acclaim. Most have received public subsidies, on the assumption that the public benefits of TOD outweigh the costs. However, little is known about how transit-oriented projects actually perform once they are built, in terms of transit use and auto dependency. The purpose of this analysis—the first in a series of Portland, Oregon TOD case studies—is to begin filling in that gap by analyzing one of the most well-known TODs in the country, Orenco Station. (more…)

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Categories: Environment

Education freedom advances

QuickPoint!

The Oregon State Senate recently advanced education freedom by eliminating mandatory testing of homeschool students, and House members will consider the bill in the coming weeks. If this bill is passed into law, it will treat home education the same as private schools by not subjecting either to government intervention.

Senate Bill 761 passed 20 to 9, but there are (more…)

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Categories: Education

Show us the leadership

QuickPoint!

With April Fool’s Day just passed, Governor Kulongoski is poised to break his pledge to make Oregon state government live within its means. The April 13 Oregonian headline reports, “Kulongoski, long against tax increase, says it appears inevitable.” The governor should keep his pledge to work on Oregon’s spending problem. That would be leadership.

The governor must hold legislators’ feet in the fire and (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Business of the City

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The Mayor of Oregon’s largest city delivered her annual State of the City address last Friday. The disconnect between her vision for economic development and the business climate reality was palpable.

Mayor Katz’ “new” economic development strategy calls for (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Great selection, low price; why discriminate against large stores?

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The Sandy, Oregon, Planning Commission held a hearing last week on a proposal to ban large retail superstores. The Eugene City Council will be looking at a similar ordinance within the next few months. Hood River has already enacted such restrictions.

Why do politicians insist on trying to (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Sell government assets for a "win/win" situation

QuickPoint!

Some assumptions concerning public policy are false. “If government doesn’t do it, nobody will” is a particularly pernicious one. This assumption fosters a tendency for government to hoard assets that could be utilized better in private hands, and to greater benefit for the public.

Raw and developed land, sports stadiums, infrastructure like sea ports and even airports may serve the (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Legislature should reject TriMet tax request

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

TriMet, Portland’s transit agency, is seeking authorization from the state legislature to raise the tax on workers that funds most of its general operations. But the primary reason for the tax increase request is: TriMet’s labor costs are too high.

Since 1994 salaries and wages have (more…)

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Categories: Transportation

Remove mandates and health insurance will be more affordable

QuickPoint!

More Oregonians should be able to afford health insurance. To help achieve that goal legislators should repeal onerous mandates and regulations that price insurance out of reach for many. Removing these restrictions would allow individuals and families the opportunity to buy coverage tailored to their needs, and also lessen pressure on the Oregon Health Plan.

In a Cascade Policy Institute report (more…)

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Categories: Healthcare

Don’t follow Portland school district’s lead

QuickPoint!

The recent deal between the city, county and school district and teachers’ union restored 24 days to the school year, but it is not a model for other cities and school districts to emulate. The city and county’s intervention sidetracked the school board from efforts to control spending and improve education.

Much attention will focus on the failure to (more…)

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Categories: Education

No plan(ners) required

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

A Portland newspaper editor recently implored in print, “We need a plan, people, soon.”

Why just one plan? In Portland, for example, some want tax incentives to attract business, others want more business taxes to fund our schools. Some want Major League Baseball, others want to invest in engineering schools. To planners such disparate talk sounds like (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Don’t adopt the "Daughter of 28"

QuickPoint!

Close on the heels of Measure 28’s failure Portland and Multnomah County officials have started dreaming of more creative ways to tax people, rather than live within the means of taxpayers. Specifics about the new taxes are hard to come by. There is no consensus on whom to tax or what to tax.

Multnomah County Commissioner Lisa Naito has proposed that (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

Paving the rails with gold

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Since the voter defeat of Measure 28, public officials in the Portland region have proposed numerous emergency tax plans to stave off service cuts such as shortened school years. Oddly, these same elected officials are warmly embracing the joint proposal of Metro and TriMet to spend $850 million building two new light rail lines.

According to Metro’s Environmental Impact Statement, each new trip on light rail will cost (more…)

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Categories: Environment

New approach to education can reduce achievement gap

QuickPoint!

Oregon education officials recently revealed what many have long known – the public schools have not addressed the persistent achievement gap between white and minority students. The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) will request a waiver from the portion of the federal No Child Left Behind Act that requires schools to make adequate yearly progress for all students, regardless of race or income level.

The ODE is worried that schools will miss (more…)

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Categories: Education

The fatal conceit of selective tax breaks

QuickPoint!

Oregon legislators are eager to review existing tax breaks. The thinking is, some breaks may have outlived their usefulness.

A state representative questioned, “Are there things on the books that could be limited or eliminated to find revenue to apply to other tax credits?” He noted that perhaps the legislature could (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

Kitzhaber doubts power of government?

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

After holding various political offices for 22 years, former Governor John Kitzhaber recently said he sees an “apparent inability of our public institutions to deal in a timely and effective manner with the problems confronting us as a nation and as a society.” Kitzhaber called for even more citizen involvement as a way to bring people together on key public issues.

We would be headed in a positive direction if (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Measure 28: No cure for Oregon’s ailing economy

QuickPoint!

Many proponents of Measure 28 advocate it as the key to bolstering Oregon’s ailing economy. However, if higher taxes and more government spending were truly the cause of a strong economy, then Oregon would currently enjoy one of the healthiest economies in the nation.

Cascade Policy Institute president Steve Buckstein points out, “The state’s general fund budget has grown at (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

For a better road system: electronic tolling

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The Oregon Road User Fee Task Force recently became the object of scorn by media pundits. Why? Because the Task Force recommended that Oregon test a Global Positioning Satellite-based system to collect tolls from motorists, using volunteer car fleets for the initial research.

Oregon roads are paid for primarily through a (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

Following New Zealand’s lead

QuickPoint!

The New Year brings promise and opportunity for Oregon. Though we face challenges, we can look to New Zealand, a country of similar size and population, for guidance on turning around a wayward economy.

The Honorable Maurice P. McTigue, a former New Zealand Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister, states that his country (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

A sales tax could cost Oregon jobs

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Oregonians have nixed a sales tax nine times at the ballot box, yet at the December 9th Oregon Leadership Summit in Portland some business and political leaders were getting ready to try again. They proposed reducing state income taxes in return for a new sales tax.

Governor-elect Kulongoski and other leaders said (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

An emerging consensus on school spending

QuickPoint!

The intellectual debate about school spending in Oregon is coming to a close. The numbers and analysis in Cascade’s Oregon K-12 Revenue and Expenditures, 1990-2001 were largely confirmed by a report from the Oregon School Board Association (OSBA), done by economic consulting firm ECONorthwest.

Both studies found that (more…)

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Categories: Education

Metro "faithful" lose their religion

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Portland’s regional government, Metro, is held up as a national model for how to get local governments to work together on such issues as land use planning. But now Metro Executive Mike Burton has proposed expanding the urban growth boundary to urbanize the 3,900 acre parcel known as the Stafford Basin. This is an area just north of I-205 between Lake Oswego and West Linn, which is surrounded on three sides by upscale suburban developments. The Basin has poor soil but was improperly zoned “farmland” years ago, which has prevented the landowners from building homes the way their neighbors have.

Burton has appropriately concluded that (more…)

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Categories: Land Use

Have a prosperous New Year

QuickPoint!

Here’s wishing everyone a prosperous New Year. That’s not a trite phrase; it’s the foundation for our dynamic culture, a clean environment, and more.

What would you do if you had more money? You might be able to take your family on a vacation. Spend more time with your children. Maybe you would be able to (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

A Thanksgiving story to celebrate

QuickPoint!

Most children are taught that Thanksgiving celebrates the Pilgrims’ first harvest and their sharing it with Native Americans. However, this version of the story suffers from serious omissions.

For its first few years the Plymouth plantation organized farming on a communal basis; each person was expected to work as much as they could, and take from common resources only what they needed. With little individual incentive to produce, colonists refused to (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Temporary is a long-time in government-speak

QuickPoint!

During the last session Oregon legislators created the current budget shortfall. They added new programs and spent more on existing programs than forecasts showed the state would have revenue to support. This irresponsibility has led to the January election on a temporary three-year income tax increase.

The legislature’s irresponsibility is a red flag about a (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

Improving Oregon’s budget and business climate

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Now that Oregon has a new governor-elect, speculation begins about how he will deal with Oregon’s continuing budget shortfall and poor business climate.

Conventional wisdom says (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

To reduce the influence of money, limit government’s power

QuickPoint!

Every now and then we hear the call for taxpayer-funded political campaigns at the national or state level. Now, it’s even at the local level.

Two Portland government officials want taxpayers to underwrite campaigns for city elections. City Commissioner Erik Sten and Auditor Gary Blackmer contend that the (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Majority vote does not change wrong into right

QuickPoint!

A sign in a government community center reads, “Exercise your freedom and vote!” This exhortation may sound good, but it should cause one to pause and ask: Is freedom really about voting?

Cato Institute president Ed Crane once remarked that the people in Poland, China, and other such places did not, and do not, rebel against oppression just so they can vote. Rather, they risk their lives to be free to live without (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Flaws in education reform exposed

QuickPoint!

Discontent with Oregon’s education reform is now coming from new areas. Recently the Tigard-Tualatin School Board voted to side with teachers and drop state-required work samples that schools use to assess student learning in a variety of subjects.

Those who question the state’s curriculum and assessment policies correctly see this as a (more…)

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Categories: Education

First, do no harm

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Why are so many Oregonians calling for a single-payer health care plan funded by personal income and payroll taxes? In large part such calls result from believing several myths about our health care system.

The first myth is that (more…)

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Categories: Healthcare

Protect everyone’s basic (property) rights

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Last week the Oregon Supreme Court invalidated ballot Measure 7, which voters passed in November 2000. Had it been enacted, Measure 7 would have helped constrain local governments’ zoning powers by requiring them to compensate land owners in certain cases where regulations caused a loss of property value.

Though the Supreme Court’s ruling is disappointing, the authors of Measure 7 have (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

A better direction for special education

QuickPoint!

A recent report by an Oregon legislative task force outlines how the state should improve special education. A number of concerns prompted the task force’s formation. Spending for special education has risen rapidly in the past decade, as documented by a new Cascade Policy Institute study. Significant resources are expended on paperwork and administration and special education programs are driven by (more…)

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Categories: Education

An electric idea to save taxpayers half-a-million bucks

QuickPoint!

Portland’s Mayor Katz and Commissioner Sten are spending a half-million dollars to study the city’s rights to acquire most of PGE’s assets, possibly through condemnation. The idea of a government takeover of PGE should die a quick death.

Here’s the most obvious question. A sour economy has pushed commissioners to seek (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

Principles, not taxes, needed to balance state budget

QuickPoint!

In June of 1993 Cascade Policy Institute published the report Seven Principles of State Budget Reform. Ironically the opening sentence asked, “Why is there another fiscal crisis in Oregon?”

The current so-called budget crisis is not an accident: It was created by the (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

September 11th

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Even after a year, it’s too early to know what September 11th will eventually come to symbolize for our country. What it should not symbolize is a turning point beyond which Americans willingly began giving up some of the very liberties that made, and keep this country great.

Before the attacks, Americans were (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Sustainable development

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The United Nations conference on sustainable development is winding down after a week of hand-wringing in Johannesburg, South Africa. As expected, the United States served as an international piñata for many of the delegates from poor nations. In speech after speech, the U.S. was criticized for its level of affluence, especially relative to other nations. South African President Thabo Mbeki, opening the conference, claimed that “a global human society based on poverty for many and prosperity for a few, is unsustainable.”

However, the notion that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer is (more…)

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Categories: Environment

Canadians and Brits wait for health care … and wait

QuickPoint!

Oregonians will vote this fall on a ballot initiative that advocates a virtual government take over of all health care in the state. A look at Canada’s government-run health care system offers insight into the side-effects of such an idea.

To control costs, the Canadian government has (more…)

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Categories: Healthcare

Put children, not schools, first

QuickPoint!

The bipartisan No Child Left Behind education bill is unlikely to achieve its stated aims. However, it has helped show that many associated with government schools are more interested in preserving power than improving education.

The new federal law requires school districts to inform (more…)

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Categories: Education

GOP: The Bigger Government Party

QuickPoint!

Republicans in Oregon and elsewhere are in danger of losing votes, and elections, due to their hypocrisy about smaller government and lower taxes. Gubernatorial candidate Kevin Mannix is exemplar. He’s deservedly catching flak for being an advocate of higher state spending in the next biennium.

Political satirist P.J. O’Rourke notes, “Giving money and power to government is like (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Wildfires show need to decentralize federal lands

Angela EckhardtQuickPoint!

In the 1970s the U.S. Forest Service came to look at fires as a natural part of a healthy forest ecosystem and officially ended its long-standing policy of putting out all fires by 10 a.m. Unfortunately, the policy change was only on paper.

There are bureaucratic obstacles to letting fires burn. In addition, the Forest Service receives a blank check for fire suppression-needed revenue in light of the 80 percent decline in timber sales that occurred in the ’90s. Thus, the Forest Service continues to suppress (more…)

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Categories: Land Use

Time to revisit privatizing Social Security

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The stock market has plunged over the last two years. Recent corporate accounting scandals have shaken the public’s trust in big companies and their management. Is now the time to revisit privatizing Social Security? You bet it is. In fact, if you’re going to start investing in the market, wouldn’t you prefer to start when the Dow is 8,700, rather than 10,000?

Over long periods of time, market rates of return have (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

The high cost of government health care

QuickPoint!

Dr. David MacDonald is a co-founder of the American Association of Patients and Providers. Talk with him and he’ll provide numerous examples of decreasing health care costs in Oregon and across the country. From routine lab tests to MRIs to office visits, cost reductions are happening, he explains, because patients and physicians are once again becoming active consumers.

This trend is gaining momentum. The results will be (more…)

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Categories: Healthcare

OHSU Tram: Forward into the Past!

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The recent decision by the Portland City Council to build a tram from Oregon Health Sciences University to the North Macadam district is reminiscent of the decision to fast- track the construction of light-rail to the Portland airport. In both cases, the transportation projects were deemed essential to the development of vacant land that would eventually create 10,000 new jobs.

Both projects were also “railroaded” through the political process in a (more…)

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Categories: Transportation

Education freedom key to religious liberty

QuickPoint!

The debate surrounding government education and religion took an interesting turn with recent court decisions regarding school vouchers and the Pledge of Allegiance. Together these two decisions provide a template for thinking about how to respect the rights of both the religious and the irreligious within education.

The Bill of Rights limits government’s involvement in (more…)

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Categories: Education

Charter school law too restrictive

QuickPoint!

Oregon passed its charter school law to foster educational freedom. The recent negotiations over the Mitch (Multisensory instruction teaching children hands-on) Charter School in Tigard-Tualatin illustrates one of the law’s several flaws.

Charter schools must receive approval from the local school district, a significant (more…)

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Categories: Education

Victory for school choice!

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long awaited ruling that low-income children in Cleveland can use publicly funded vouchers, worth up to $2,250 per child, to attend secular or religious private schools. The decision makes good on the promise made nearly 50 years ago in Brown v. Board of Education. The message from the High Court is that parents of all income levels have the right to choose the safest and best schools for their children.

Wealthier families can already (more…)

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Categories: Education

I-5 Partnership locks in traffic

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The I-5 Partnership, representing the states of Oregon and Washington, will adopt final recommendations this week for alleviating traffic problems on Interstate 5 between Portland and Vancouver. The recommendations cost over $2 billion, but will do little to actually improve traffic flow.

The primary reason is that nearly half the money will (more…)

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Categories: Transportation

Business support for public power raises red flags

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The failure of so-called electricity deregulation in California and the bankruptcy of Enron Corporation have led to calls for public ownership of Enron subsidiary Portland General Electric. Some businesses have jumped on the bandwagon, including large electricity consumers such as computer chipmaker Intel.

Public ownership proponents argue that (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Keep the quorum: Preserve the double-majority rule

QuickPoint!

Low voter turnout in the recent Oregon primary election helped block numerous tax measures throughout the state. For that reason, some people wish to eliminate the 50 percent turnout requirement, which is simply a quorum rule.

To pass certain tax measures during a primary election, 50 percent plus one of those casting ballots must (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

Do teacher unions really benefit children?

QuickPoint!

During the recent primary election the Oregon Education Association (OEA) got what it wanted by defeating Ballot Measure 13 and electing Susan Castillo to Superintendent of Public Instruction. Although the OEA’s effectiveness is admirable, it is questionable whether the union’s actions actually improve education.

The OEA is a union and like all unions is (more…)

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Categories: Education

What if they held an election and no one came?

Angela EckhardtQuickPoint!

Voter apathy is the popular explanation for low voter turnout. As the director of publications at a public policy think tank, I am as far from apathetic as you can get. I withheld my vote on purpose for several good, responsible reasons.

I do not participate in the party primaries because the (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Lesson from New Zealand: Plow under U.S. farm subsidies

QuickPoint!

President Bush showed his anti-consumer, anti-taxpayer side on Monday, May 13: he signed legislation that increased farm subsidies by $83 billion. This legislation, supported by Oregon’s U.S. Senators Smith and Wyden, and Representatives Wu, Walden and Hooley, shows corporate welfare is alive and kicking in Washington, DC with bi-partisan support.

U.S. farm subsidies were to have gradually ended with the (more…)

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Categories: Environment

School funding waltz: Measure 5, equalization and legislative puppeteering

QuickPoint!

Political candidates and editorial boards across the state blame Measure 5 for centralizing education funding in Salem. Although the initiative did give the state a greater role in school funding, a number of other changes have also furthered state involvement in education.

A case study is the Condon School District in eastern Oregon, which is struggling with budget cuts. Lynn Wilkins, Condon School Board chairman, said, “Prior to Measure 5 passing in 1990, Condon was (more…)

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Categories: Education

Drug prohibition, cigarette taxes and terrorism

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

When U.S. Drug Czar John Walters spoke in Portland last Friday he touched on the theme of his administration’s ad campaign: that if you use illegal drugs you’re helping to finance terrorism. He could have more accurately said that if you prohibit the sale of drugs, or raise cigarette taxes to abnormally high levels, you’re helping to finance terrorism.

We can ban products, but (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

PERS: Let’s talk solutions

Angela EckhardtQuickPoint!

Gubernatorial candidate Ron Saxton deserves praise for making the state’s financially insolvent Public Employees Retirement System a campaign issue. The fact that PERS threatens to bankrupt Oregon cities, counties and school districts is not news to elected officials. Previous reforms have left the fundamentally flawed structure of PERS intact, and the mounting debt is getting harder to ignore. Let’s talk real solutions.

Last year Cascade Policy Institute asked one of the (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

Westside story shows land use planning flaws

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Recently the Westside Economic Alliance and others sponsored an economic “summit” to examine the economy of the Portland metro region. The centerpiece was a presentation by economist Joe Cortright.

Cortright’s extensive research showed that Washington County is the economic driving force in the region. Not surprisingly, high technology leads the way. That sector has over 60,000 jobs and is (more…)

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Categories: Land Use

Black holes in education spending

QuickPoint!

Oregon’s budget crisis is a blessing in disguise for schools. It has helped expand education debates from a myopic focus on total funding to a more useful discussion about spending priorities.

Despite an 11 percent increase in the K-12 education budget from the previous biennium, core education services are (more…)

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Categories: Education

Extend Enron scrutiny to government programs

Angela EckhardtQuickPoint!

The collapse of Enron has been grabbing headlines for months. Politicians are on a warpath to get to the bottom of the scandal. Their outrage is justified, but their vigilance shouldn’t end with Enron. Federal, state, and local governments are guilty of egregious fiscal mismanagement-on a much larger scale.

Worried about the lost retirement funds of Enron employees? It pales in comparison to (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

Defuse drug testing debate through school choice

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The Oregon Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court heard similar cases last week about the constitutionality of drug tests in school.

Here in Oregon, sixteen year old Ginelle Weber and her parents object to Oakridge High School’s random drug tests for athletes. The federal case involves (more…)

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Categories: Education

Universities can flourish without Salem

QuickPoint!

The Oregon University System will sustain an additional $27.2 million in budget cuts, announced Governor Kitzhaber last week. The budget crunch should prompt universities to seek independence from budgeting decisions in Salem. One school may have a unique opportunity that could be instructive for the others.

A philanthropist offered the Oregon Institute of Technology a $100 million endowment to enable the school to (more…)

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Categories: Education

Columbia River dredging: It’s the pork, stupid!

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The Oregonian has stirred up debate recently with its investigative report on the proposed deepening of the Columbia River navigation channel. Now proponents and opponents are arguing about whether the net benefits will exceed the net costs, and which interest group will gain the most from federal investments.

Unfortunately, this is an unavoidable problem when (more…)

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Categories: Land Use

Creative solutions for school budgets

QuickPoint!

School districts in Oregon face budget cuts that present opportunities to empower teachers, control costs and direct greater resources to the classroom. Districts should consider the following proposals.

Health care: In the short-term, increasing deductibles and co-payments and limiting the employer contribution are the (more…)

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Categories: Education

Urban renewal gets another black eye

Angela EckhardtQuickPoint!

The Portland Development Commission has put 70 urban renewal projects on hold due to the recent Oregon Supreme Court decision in Shilo Inn v. Multnomah County. Amidst the collective hand wringing over the loss of funds, few are discussing the public financing sleight of hand that has been exposed thanks to Shilo.

The court determined that some property taxes dedicated to urban renewal projects were (more…)

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Categories: Land Use

CAFE carnage: Death by fuel economy standards

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Dozens of Oregonians are killed every year by fuel economy standards on new cars. The situation may soon get even worse.

The federal government’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards impose average mile per gallon (mpg) requirements on every automaker’s yearly output of new cars. The current standard is (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Greater health insurance freedom would reduce OHP demand

QuickPoint!

Much noise was raised about protecting the Oregon Health Plan from budget cuts in the recent special legislative session. A more constructive ruckus would have started with the question: how can we get more affordable private health insurance, and thereby reduce the need for the OHP?

Randall J. Pozdena, Ph.D., noted in a November 2000 Cascade report, “Oregon is one of 16 states identified by the U.S. General Accounting Office as having (more…)

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Categories: Healthcare

Time to commercialize Oregon’s bridges

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The Oregonian‘s four-part story about Oregon’s slowly collapsing highway bridges points to a fundamental problem: we raise lots of revenue through transportation taxes, but there is no requirement that those funds be spent on maintenance.

Between 1986 and 1999, revenues collected from state gas taxes (more…)

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Categories: Tax and Budget

Education freedom linked to high test scores

QuickPoint!

The Manhattan Institute recently released its 2001 Education Freedom Index, which measures four types of educational freedom: the ability of parents to pursue charter school options, subsidized private schools, public school choice and home-schooling. Oregon ranked 16th, falling 11 places from the previous year. The drop in Oregon’s ranking occurred as other states sailed past Oregon to implement school choice reforms.

According to the report’s author (more…)

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Categories: Education

Term limits decision threatens initiative rights

Angela EckhardtQuickPoint!

Oregonians’ ability to make meaningful changes to their Constitution was further eroded when the Oregon Supreme Court struck down voter-approved term limits January 11 on a technicality. The court cited a newly recognized requirement for separate votes on proposed changes that are not “closely related.” The popular initiative originally applied term limits to both state and federal offices. Apparently the Court failed to see the connection.

This ruling leaves past initiatives open to challenge and (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Oregon lives beyond our means

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

When Governor Kitzhaber argues that we should pursue revenue increases to balance the budget, let’s not forget that Oregon is a very high spending state. According to recently released U.S. Census data, Oregon state and local governments spend more per capita than all but seven other states. This stark fact bolsters the argument that the budget should be balanced by cutting spending, not by raising taxes.

Fourteen months ago, long before (more…)

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Categories: Economic Opportunity

Socialized Medicine in Great Britain: Lessons for the Oregon Health Plan

by Professor John Spiers

Dr. John Spiers is a professor in the Business School, The University of Glamorgan, UK, a Senior Research Fellow at The Institute of Economic Affairs, and a Health Policy Adviser at the Social Market Foundation, both in London. He recently spent a month in our state studying the Oregon Health Plan. This paper is adapted from a talk Dr. Spiers gave on March 18, 1999 for Cascade Policy Institute, where he has been named an adjunct scholar.

1. Introduction:

The Oregon Plan, well intentioned as it is, mirrors the overall problems of American health care. The way this is structured prevents the working and the non-working American, the better off and the poor, from controlling their own lives and building better personal care. (more…)

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Categories: Healthcare