Enhancing Oregon taxation policies.


Noted Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Taxation is the price we pay for civilization.” But is it?

Economist Mark Skousen best framed the response to Holmes in his paper Persuasion versus Force, where he wrote: “Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society. The higher the tax level, the greater the failure.”

Cascade predicted the current massive unfunded liabilities crisis in Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System years before any official recognition. Our 2001 report, Pension Liberation: A Proposal to Reform PERS, is just one of Cascade’s many critiques of Oregon’s PERS problem.

The 2019 Oregon Legislative Session made clear that the fight to reform PERS is not over. Democrats passed a $1 billion corporate tax to increase school funding while cutting public employee compensation in an attempt to bolster PERS finances.

Although local education spending in Oregon has increased by $1.7 billion over the past ten years, public school districts claim they face a funding gap that has caused teachers to be cut and class sizes to increase. The greatest single problem with Oregon’s K-12 public education budget, however, is runaway PERS costs. In 2009, school districts paid approximately 15 percent of payroll to fund PERS. The amount is expected to increase to 30 percent of payroll in 2020.

Cascade analyzes Oregon state and local tax and budget policies with an eye toward enhancing individual liberty, personal responsibility, and economic opportunity.

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