Ya Cheap Bastards!

Kenji Sugahara

So there we were, Anne and I hanging out at the Wild Pear (awesome place to dine down here) in downtown Salem last week munching on tuna fish sandwiches and shooting the breeze. We gabbed about the usual stuff- the Dems convention, work, wacky Oregon politics, religion, the heat, pretty much anything that came across our minds. We probably scared some folks. During out conversation we came to a conclusion: Oregonians are bunch of cheap bastards. As a whole, we’re a population of uptight, penny-pinching, cheapskates.

Why do Oregonians vote against taxes to help other Oregonians in need? Why do we send $300 each time we see a sob-story on TV yet refuse to pay an additional $150 per year to help educate our youth and protect the state’s most vulnerable citizens? Why do people who need the services continually vote against measures that would help them the most? Why do Oregonians demand the best service yet don’t want to pay for it?

For example, the defeat of Measure 8 and Measure 30 dealt serious blows to education. People in rural areas voted overwhelmingly against both. When Portland passed the local tax, Measure 30 had no chance in hell of passing. There was no reason for Portland to vote for 30. They had already taken care of their own schools. It was interesting to see the "conservative" areas clamoring for a share of the money raised by Portland saying "it wasn't fair."

Personally, my wife and I interview candidates for my alma mater. We saw the impact of the cuts. We felt awful when we interviewed one of the kids from a rural high school outside of Salem. She spoke of cuts to extracurricular programs, cuts to AP courses, and cuts to sports programs. I'll tell you this. There's no chance in hell that these kids can compete with individuals coming from East Coast schools or even the larger Oregon metro schools. It makes it much more difficult for them to get into first and second tier colleges and universities. It makes it more difficult for them to get scholarships. Extracurricular activities matter. AP courses matter. Sports programs matter. These programs help children compete and grow into well rounded adults.

Why does this all matter? According to the Education State Rankings, 2003-2004 we are the 32nd smartest state in the US. Another way to look at it? We're the 19th dumbest state in America. That puts us on the wrong side of the stupid scale. How are we supposed to compete for businesses with other states? How are we supposed to compete on a global level?

Help me understand why Oregonians have a problem comprehending the old adage:

“You get what you pay for.”

Comments

  • Marcello (unverified)
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    The problem is that people don't see state revenues as needed for services that they want. We should do a statewide survey asking the following multiple choice questions:

    Would you like to pay Oregon taxes to a level that allows oregonians to have an educational system that is:

    1. Best in the nation
    2. Above average
    3. Average
    4. Below average
    5. Worst in the nation

    Currently the answer is somewhere between 4 and 5.

    People don't seem to understand that what you pay is what you get. If we choose to pay at a level that puts us near the bottom when it comes to education and many other public services, that is unfortunately our choice, and we all suffer for it.

  • Erika (unverified)
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    I don't claim to know how taxes work in Oregon. What I do know is I pay more income tax in Oregon than in any other state I've lived in (Minnesota, Nevada, California).

    I'm guessing part of the issue may be lack of sales tax in Oregon. So when it comes time to pay state, and now county, taxes, I find myself in a great deal of pain.

    The pain was much greater when I was making $30k a year. Now that I'm down to half that amount, my Oregon taxes are still obscenely high, but my federal tax return with head-of-house and EIC gives me enough of a return to cover state/county taxes and them some.

    For the record, I, personally, always vote for tax increases that would help schools. I find it painful to pay so much income tax, but I am the type of person who is always trying to see the bigger picture.

    However, I think you cannot hold it against rural conservative folks, especially those with lower incomes, when they resist against increased taxes. For someone earning under 50k a year, Oregon taxes feel extremely high already.

    Sales tax (please, not on food) might be one way to address this once-a-year pain. Let Oregon start a (lower) sales tax on certain items... then, to help compensate for the impact on the poor, let's update the 1971 bottle bill... I could buy a candy for .20 in 1977 (first year I can remember buying candy bars) and phone calls cost a dime. Now a candy bar is .75 and a phone call is .50. How much has our bottle deposit/return gone up in the last 33 years? hm?

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    I think that we will have a lot more luck completing Anne and Chubby Gazelle's idea of replacing our state constitution than getting a sales tax in Oregon.

    Funny how you live in Oregon and the idea of a sales tax is a political taboo (it's been on the ballot and failed about nine times, if I recall correctly), but you cross that mighty Columbia and talk of an income tax becomes just as sacred.

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    Oregon's open political system gets some of the blame for this, I think. Since it's relatively easy to get things on the ballot here, national antitax organizations (Grover Norquists' and Dick Armey's come to mind) come here and spend big money to defeat any measure that addresses taxes.

    At some point, Oregonians do have to realize that we're being manipulated by people whose stated purpose is to "shrink government to the point that it can be drowned in a bathtub," as Grover Norquist likes to say.

    Sales taxes are regressive, and do fall a lot harder on the poor. Even if it would fix the problem, Oregon will get one just about the time we get self-service gasoline. Sacred cows.

    Oregon "gives back" about $.42 on the dollar in tax collections. The givebacks are in the form of subsidies, tax credits, and corporate welfare. Our tax laws allowed PGE to collect state taxes from ratepayers, hide their profits in Enron's accounting system, and pay $10 to Oregon. If the legislature would close up some of the tax credits and loopholes, the money would be there. We wouldn't all be happy about some of the changes--for example, they could get rid of the $50/person credit for political contributions.

    That said, we rely too much on income taxes. Even though people in other states often pay more taxes in total, they don't feel it as much because they're adding a dime or a quarter to a purchase rather than writing a big check. Income taxes are a tough sell.

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    I agree the sales tax is regressive and for that reason wouldn't be too supportive.

    As for eliminating tax credits, getting rid of some of them would be great and solve a lot of Oregon's money woes. This is something that needs a good look but I don't think that we should get rid of them all. For instance the $50 per person tax credit Jenny mentions actually encourages people to get involved politically. It allows people to feel they have that voice in the process but doesn't cost nearly as much as some credits, such as the Oregon Pollution Control Tax Credit, which actually gives tax breaks to polluters just to follow the law. The political tax credit also helps small campaigns compete against big money contributions.

    Tax credits should be about encouraging positive behaviors (such as when the pollution control credit was originally passed and people had to go above and beyond the law in order to receive it).

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    A couple of facts worth considering. Oregon has the second-highest income tax (after NY), given the Sizemores and McIntire's a lot of ammo. But the tax burden--that is, the total amount we pay in all taxes and fees--is well below the national average. (Figures range from Oregon's burden being mid-30s to mid-40s in terms of state rankings.) Thanks to this structure (heavy reliance on income tax), we also have one of the most unbalanced in the country. This makes state budget especially vulnerable to, say, unemployment spikes.

    Oregonians are by nature interested in fairness. For 15 years, Sizemore and his chicken littles have sold the state on the notion that any tax plan not explicitly endorsed by Grover Norquist must be bad and unfair. I think there's a growing sense that the way Sizemore defined fairness was corrupt (it was) and that the hardcore right are no longer defenders of the little guy (they're not). Liberals must seize the "fairness" doctrine away from the extremists--Oregonians will support that.

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    Liberals must seize the "fairness" doctrine away from the extremists--Oregonians will support that.

    Liberals on the whole in Oregon need to figure out an effective way to act to advance their sense of Oregon's values rather than always simply reacting to the state's Sizemores.

  • Kris Hasson-Jones (unverified)
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    The reason taxes feel so high for so little return is that back in the early 90s the state reduced taxes on businesses (including property tax) to absolutely ridiculous levels. That same Measure 5 that rolled back my home's assessed value (and the property taxes I paid) also applied to Nike's campus and all the other big commercial lots, resulting in many fewer dollars collected in property tax. Business income taxes were also rolled back separately. This was supposed to create jobs, but I don't see them, do you?

  • Steve (unverified)
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    If we limit the discussion to school taxes, I think we budget >$10K per student (PPS budget/# of students). Private schools charge about $6K and Vancouver is about $8K/student. Almost everyone I know would rather have their kids go to either for education. The bigger issue is that taxpayers see a lot of waste and then the schoolchildren are held hostage to get more money. Not to pick on PPS, but how many superindents have they gone thru in the past 10 years and how many golden parachutes? Also, how many other people get $950/month to pay med insurance with like every PPS teacher?

    Sorry, I see a lot of people who take paycuts/lower benefits and have to pay higher prop taxes and fees. Then I hear someone call all of us cheap bastards, that is insulting. Why not call all of ignorant and prejudiced while you are at it so you can complete your stereotyped trope of the average Oregon citizen?

  • Justin (unverified)
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    I like this forum but at times it is just a shill for the Democratic Party. This is one of those times.

    Oregon's tax burden is relatively moderate compared to most states. However, their per pupil budget of $10,000 is one of the nation's highest. A couple years back the Oregonian researched this and found that most of the money goes to developmentally challenged students and immigrant students.

  • pdxkona (unverified)
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    I'm gonna jump back into the "we have a sucky school system" conclusion. According to the Education State Rankings, 2003-2004 we are the 32nd smartest state in the US. Another way to look at it? We're the 19th dumbest state in America. That puts us on the wrong side of the stupid scale.

    I am somewhat curious about just what they use to come up with those numbers. Because all the folks I currently know to have come out of the Oregon school system (about 32 as of this year), are all incredibly intelligent and creative. The kind of kids that were very smart just not motivated to show you how smart they were; all a bit modest and just not interested in showing off. Some went on to college (Reedies and UofO), and some didn't; but they all are very very smart.

    So have things changed drastically in the last 5-10 years? Or is my sample just extremely lucky? And if things have changed drastically, just what created the change? I have a hard time believing it was just suddenly a lack of dollars. What were the school budgets 10 and 5 years ago compared with today? Were there any major state policy changes that happened within that time period? These are all the questions I think we need to be asking instead of A. believing the ranking right off the bat and B. assuming it must be the lack of fundage.

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    For the methodology used in the rankings click here. As a comparison, Oregon was ranked number 9 in academic achievement (1999-2000) according to the American Legislative Exchange Council. Justin- you are partially correct. In the 1999-2000 school year the real per pupil (elementary and secondary schools- gross) expenditure was $8,605 per pupil. (If you could source the $10,000 per pupil figure , I'd be very appreciative.) At that time we were ranked #6 in per pupil spending. However, in 2003, Oregon dropped to number 31 at $7,242 per pupil.

    Also, Steve, I'm digging for figures for administrative salaries/compensation packages. Without any state by state comparisons it's really hard to make any opinions. It would probably be prudent to look at all 50 states instead of just making comparisons to neighboring states.

    As far as Washington is concerned, the per pupil expenditure for the state in 2002-2003 was $7,056 per student. (ranked number 34).

    My next question is, what widespread waste do you see in the educational system?

  • Alexander Craghead (unverified)
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    Two things.

    1.) Rural schools exist in -- duh -- rural locations. That might sound stupid at first, but think about it, and then remember that Oregon's resource based economy -- the lifeblood of those rural locales -- has gone the way of K-Line container service for the Port of Portland has.

    2.) I have a problem with anyone who says that anything in Oregon is the best, worst, 32nd, 255th, or anything in the nation. If every state in the nation had a school system that Japan would blush at, we'd still have states that were number 1, number 32, and number 50. What rank are we? Who cares! It's irrelevant! The question is not our rank, its our product: as those children getting good educations and going on to productive lives? What happens in Georgia or New Jersey schools is not a factor in that.

    Lastly it needs to be noted that the situation with (all program, not schools exclusively) funding requirements being high vs. revenue is because Oregon is not a rich, populous state, but we expect to have a level of service comparable with top tier states like New York and California. Result? High cost per capita. Answer: either reduce expenditures, or increase population (and job base of course) to spread the burden thinner.

    We don't need more revenue. We need more stable revenue, spread out more so as to feel less painful to those who pay it. Remember, the average Oregonian makes only $22k per year, folks. Short term solutions like raising taxes on rich people won't work, because rich people can always flee to tax havens out of state.

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    Excuse me, you communist b*stards, but Portland already has the highest state and local taxes of any city west of the Mississippi. Maybe we're building too many empty convention centers, streetcars to nowhere, and aerial trams...

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    Kenji:

    Great post...and good questions. Perhaps its because I also grew up in Connecticut and went to U of O Law School (will it be referred to as U of Zero if the funding trends continue?), but I have also wondered why Oregonians are so cheap. Besides the coincidence of background, its probably that I too have seen the impacts and wonder how bad it has to get for others to connect the dots between taxes and livability and a civil society.

    Your question "Help me understand why Oregonians have a problem comprehending the old adage:'You get what you pay for.' " gets to the nub of the issue. Oregonians, like most Americans, have not made the connection between the taxes they pay and the services they get. Helping them make that connection is the key to eventually getting a better revenue system that brings in adequate resources in a just manner. We need to restore trust in government and constantly point out to our friends and neighbors how government does in fact (warts and all) help each of us every day.

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    Hey Alexander! Great to see your post. In terms of your first point, you have to remember that most funding for schools does not come from property taxes. Once measure 5 was passed, schools were forced to get most of their revenue from income taxes (the pie is divided in Salem). Thus, even if rural areas are resource poor, they should still receive a proportionate share of money from Salem.

    What happens in Georgia or New Jersey schools is not a factor in that.

    Actually, I have to disagree with you there. In my opinion it his highly relevant given the fact that states are now competing with each other for investment dollars and businesses. To attract businesses to the state you need to have a highly skilled workforce- which starts with a well educated population. Executives want to see their kids to go to good schools so they can attend elite colleges and universities.

    We don't need more revenue. We need more stable revenue, spread out more so as to feel less painful to those who pay it.

    Absolutely. If we adopt a sales tax, which has a different cycle than an income taxes, and decrease income taxes, I think we'll have a more stable revenue stream. According to the study cited by CNN in their big city tax burden article, Oregon has a pretty progressive tax structure with a coefficient of .802 (check out the study for an explanation). A proportional tax system has a coefficient of 1.0 and anything greater than 1.0 would be considered regressive. Thus, I think the addition of a sales tax would not turn Oregon's system into a regressive tax structure. I agree that Measure 8 and Measure 30 were band-aids but I felt that they were necessary as stop-gap measures.

    According to the source data for the CNN article that Jack points out, the study only looks at the largest city in each state. I'd be interested in looking at more data than was included in the study (e.g. more cities). What's really interesting to see is that the overall tax burden for Portland (family of 4 making $75K/yr) in 1999 ranked it at #30, in 2000 it was at #24, in 2001 it went to #13, and then #8 in 2002. Looking at the figures it seems like the entire jump in 2000 to 2001 was due to an increase in property taxes. The statisticians wrote that the estimated property tax burden in 2000 was $1,972. In 2001, they estimated it to be $3,457. What's really confusing is that the estimated tax burden actually went down between 2001 and 2002 yet we went up in ranking.

    Just for fun here are some other stats from the 2002 study: Oregon ranked #37 in maximum rates for corporate taxes, Oregon had the 6th lowest car registration rates.

    Source material.

  • Alexander Craghead (unverified)
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    First, I am absolutely opposed to a Sales Tax because it is regressive. Income taxes are fair -- you mkae it you pay, you don't, you don't. Fairness matters in my book.

    Yes, I realize that might make the situation impossible. And now you know one of the causes of this predicament: Oregonians want high service but don't want to be unfair. That is as much a factor as them being "cheap"

    As for your comments about us vs. Georgia or NJ, I still hold to my point: someone will always be 50th. Does that mean they are bad? And for that matter, why should we give a rat's behind what executives want for their children? First, executives more often than not send their kids to private schools, and second, executives are by definition a small group -- only a handful per company. I am much more worried about the children of those in middle managment and labor, the majority of the workforce. The question should not be, are our schools producing Princeton grads, but, are our schools preventing those with talent from rising?

    Lastly, regarding rural areas, my udnerstanding -- perhaps incorrect, but my understanding nonetheless -- was that rural timber sales on state owned lands used to go to a pot/trust/something which benefitted the schools of the county which that timber sale occured in. This used to be a big income generator. Now that we are becomming more and more recreation and service based, there is nothing to replace that income for rural communities.

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    In terms of fairness, I think there's a balance to be struck. A sales tax is not per se regressive. "Factors that make the sales tax regressive include a flat tax rate as well as a tax base which includes tangible necessities but not necessarily services. Factors which can lessen the regressivity of the sales tax include the exemption of groceries and the taxation of certain services."- Tax Rates and Tax Burdens In The District of Columbia A Nationwide Comparison. I think a selective sales tax is what is needed.

    There will always be someone who is always 50th. Does that mean that they are bad? In comparison to developing countries? No. In comparison to other states, likely. We need a competitive edge. The competitive edge allows us to attract more people, more businesses, more opportunities, and "increase the economic pie."

    Executives are highly important because they make their decisions as to where to locate offices and factories. Not all executives send their kids to Deerfield Academy or Watkinson. Executives are also concerned about managers too. When companies move some of their operations to Oregon, they also want to ensure their managers are happy too. (more productivity)

    The question should not be, are our schools producing Princeton grads, but, are our schools preventing those with talent from rising?

    Absolutely. I don't disagree with you on that point. I'd ask "are our schools preventing kids from reaching their potential?"

    In terms of timber you may be talking about the Common School Fund. State funding sources can be found here. Equalization between rural and metro schools are also discussed in the reports.

  • Alexander Craghead (unverified)
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    Bingo, Kenji. You found it!

    Notice how much the CSF is declining in recent times. One wonders if the CSF could be the solution to the old rainy day fund issue. Perhaps exapnding the CSF and finding better ways to invest in/manage that resource would be suitable. The CSF was designed in a time when resources would be the main income of the state. If that is no longer to be the case, we need to find a way to tap whatever our new lifeblood is to be -- be that tourism, or whatever -- to fund it.

    Being cheap is an element, and I will not dispute it. But we need a broader look from outside the hardened rhetoric if we are to find a solution that works for this state. And that includes addressing job and wealth creation for rural areas, as well as taking a hard look at what services the state provides and balancing them with our income.

    I'd also suggest we stop cutting our own throats by being so laxadasial about commerce, i.e. the Port of Portland, however, that is a long and off topic-ish discussion that I have expounded on far too much as it is.

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    Whoa! The CNN figures come from The Tax Foundation, notorious for misleading data. See, for example http://www.cbpp.org/4-7-04tax.pdf

    For information on Oregonians' tax burden, see http://www.ocpp.org/2004/rpt040413.pdf and http://www.ocpp.org/2003/rpt030415.pdf

    And don't worry about business tax burden in Oregon being too high, its not: http://www.ocpp.org/2004/issue040123.htm

    A sales tax, by definition, is regressive, as it is not based on ability to pay. Can regressivity be overcome? It is difficult: http://www.ocpp.org/2003/issue030707.pdf

    And remember, Oregon's tax system, when the federal offset for state income taxes is considered, is regressive. see http://www.ocpp.org/2003/2003WhoPaysCol.pdf, from the CTJ/ITEP report Who Pays? available at http://www.itepnet.org/whopays.htm

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    Hi Chuck! There's actually two different CNN articles. One has to deal with the state rankings (which are sourced from the Tax Foundation) and the city rankings are sourced from the government of DC. Also, the business tax burden is pretty low... and thanks for the links!

  • Steve (unverified)
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    School Funding and Waste

    http://www.pps.k12.or.us/news-c/Superintendents_Message_03-08-2004.pdf

    Shows a 2004-2005 budget of $393M, however does not show the Federal contribution. In 2001-2002 this was $50M, sorry latest figure I could find. Total of about $450M. Enrollment was about 48000 students in 2003-04 = $9300. So, yes, I am guilty of rounding up, however, compared to Washington @ $7K this is still a very sizable increase without Federal money.

    My next question is, what widespread waste do you see in the educational system? *** Same report as above 2800 teachers out of 4150 FTE = 60% in the classroom. Come on, 1 support person for each teacher. Also, 48K students / 2800 teachers = 18 students /per teacher, so I don't know where they get the 30 student per teacher number.

    Also, if they cut the medical fund from $950 per month to $850 per month (not unreasonable), that saves $1200 * 4150 employees = $5M. Maybe not a lot, but then a token sacrifice by PAT would be a nice gesture.

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    In terms of the federal contribution, there's a breakdown on page 6 of the PDF. As far as Washington is concerned, I'm looking at Clark County and I'm pulling a figure of $9,415.85 per pupil.

    Dunno about the 30:1 ratio. I have a feeling that ESL and special education have a much lower student teacher ratios (because of special needs). That might account for the difference. I definitely think it would be worth looking in to.

    Breaking the 4,150 FTE's down, we're looking at 886 classroom support people- librarians, couselors, principals, administrators and suppot staff (which includes people who provide speech services, attendance services, and oversee extracurricular activities.) 283 FTE's deal with building support which includes student transportation, utilities, maintenance, custodial services, printing, purchasing, and technology services. Central support/administration has 126 FTE's that deal with public information, testing, legal, finance, payroll, budgeting, human resources, and supervision of instruction.

    These positions are spread out over approximately 98 locations. This means there are approximately 9 classroom support FTE's per school, about 3 building support FTE's per school, and approximately 1.2 FTE's at central per school. Actual figures probably vary because of differences in school sizes. But, when you average it out, it isn't too bad.

    In terms of taking a cut, after a contract has been negotiated you can't go back and change it. When contract talks open back up, they can ask for that concession. However, the union will most likely ask for a concession in return. e.g. perhaps some deferred compensation. That would be the fair thing to do. It happens in private industry to- e.g. looking at the Delta negotiations- pay cut in return for stock.

    From my point of view, I don't see a lot of waste.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    I guess my biggest issue with your comments is calling us cheap bastards when in the private sector we take paycuts and benefit cuts in return for keeping our jobs. Your example of getting Delta stock in return for money is not a good one, especially if you look at airline stocks. Also, I think Enron did this with their stock in employee's 401k accounts and that did not hve the best results.

    With public sector employees, pay raises continue regardless of budget conditions. In addition, PERS is one of the sweetest deals ever cut since the state makes most of the contribution and payouts are made regardless of the amount in the fund.

    So, my basic question is when has any public employee made a sacrifice or been laid off?

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    Well, Steve, those of us in the non-profit sector face pay and benefit cuts right along with you--and on a non-profit salary there isn't all that much to cut, believe me.

    As for examples of public employees taking pay cuts, how about the Portland Public School teachers who taught unpaid for nearly two weeks last year to prevent PPS from having the nation's shortest school year?

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    Understandable- the thing that sucks about the private sector right now is the economy is in the tank, thereby giving corporations leverage over employees- take these cuts or be fired. On the flip side, during the 1990's the situation was reversed. Employees had leverage over companies, as jobs were plentiful (especially in the tech sector). Companies were competing for employees. It's cyclical in nature. I really don't think you can make a comparison between Enron and Delta as they are completely different animals. That said, Delta was just an example. Stock or options in exchange for reduced pay is nothing new. They are deferred compensation plans- they are quite plentiful.

    Nationally, private employers plan to give out pay increases of 3.3 percent in 2004. Executives will see the biggest average pay raises this year at 3.7 percent, while nonunion hourly workers will see the smallest at 3.3 percent. As far as Oregon state workers go, there are/have been no merit increases nor any cost of living increases. That means that a lot of folks are in effect making less money than they were at the beginning of the biennium. So pay raises aren't occuring at least at the state level.

    Another difference is that most private sector jobs are at will, which means that employees have no property interest in their jobs. Classified state employees have a property interest in their jobs- and that stems from a line of cases ruled on by the US Supreme Court. That means a state worker, once past their trial service, can be removed only for cause. However, positions can be eliminated. This month, 21 employees at the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs were laid off. The ODVA director said the department was restructured in response to changes in the demand from veteran clients – specifically, a lower demand for veteran home loans. (KGW report). In addition, unfilled positions were eliminated. That puts more work on less peoples' shoulders.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    OK, granted - 21 employees out of how many total? The number has to be infinitely small. Private mortgage brokers have done a better job and consumers have voted with their dollars, is that such a tragedy.

    That does NOT mean more work on less peoples's shoulders. It means less work on less people.

    So by listing the case law, you are telling me that no matter how bad our economy gets, we cannot cut the budget? At least for employees? Your arguments are not very convincing so far.

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    As far as the ODVA is concerned- the layoffs constitute 20 percent of the agency personnel. Veterans' Affairs also eliminated nine full-time positions that had been vacant, and cut spending in other non-personnel areas.

    It goes far beyond ODVA. There's been many individuals who have had to choose between a layoff notice and "bumping" other employees with less seniority. Last year over 100 court employees were laid off. (about 6%). Last year, Public Defenders were subject to a three week layoff along with a 20% paycut. Staff was reduced at Department of Corrections. In 2002, the state cut 3,200 jobs. While total government employment increased by 20% frm 1990-2003, there has been a decline in recent years. In 2002 state government employment figures averaged 66,792, in 2003 it was 66,500, and so far in 2004 numbers are averaging 62,600. Source: OLMIS. There's also a great article addressing government employment (and trends) in Oregon.

    Private mortgage brokers have done a better job and consumers have voted with their dollars, is that such a tragedy.

    The statement "Private mortgage brokers have done a better job" is not necessarily true. ODVA by law cannot refinance mortgages.

    So by listing the case law, you are telling me that no matter how bad our economy gets, we cannot cut the budget?

    Read my post carefully.

    That does NOT mean more work on less peoples's shoulders. It means less work on less people.

    Huh? When positions are eliminated or positions are left unfilled, more work is shifted toward those who are still employed, especially if the amount of work stays the same or increases (as it usually does). I'm talking on a general basis here, not just about ODVA.

    Looking at our discussion so far, I'm wondering what would it would take to change your mind? Or is it simply that we agree to disagree?

  • Steve (unverified)
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    OK, sorry, I guess I was too subtle. ODVA originates loans and mortgage brokers orignate loans. People get a better deal from brokers and don't use ODVA. Ergo, less work for ODVA = less people needed to work.

    Going back to the start of this diatribe my biggest issue was you calling us cheap because we are having an issue paying more taxes.

    I do not have an issue paying taxes for: - Better schools - Better police protection However, these are the first things cut. I read the link and the 5000 job losses were due to 10000 school positions cut.

    I have an issue paying taxes for: - Trolleys and gondolas to expensive housing developments. - Property tax breaks for $1M condos in the Pearl District (go to portlandmaps.org and type in 625 NW 11th $150/yr for 15 yrs on a $1M condo) - Floating sidewalks no one uses (anecdotal observations) - Baseball stadiums after they drive PGE Park into the ground - Takeover of PGE when they can't buy a computer for the Water Bureau - Funding of ODOT when they can't maintain roads now and are not building new highways In short, special interest projects that benefit a few and we have to pay for it.

    So when you say, we don't want to pay for what we use, you are only propagating a false premise.

    Sorry, no more comments on this topic - It has to be boring for you.

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    Nah, not boring at all.

    Ahhh... and there's the crux of the issue. I don't see a lot about the trolleys, gondolas, tax breaks, etc. So... I can't comment on them but I do understand where you are coming from. It seems there might be some projects that you disagree with, but on the whole, is your city/state doing an ok job?

    However, I have to disagree with you on ODOT. ODOT gets its most of its funds from federal dollars and gas taxes. In terms of maintaing roads, they're revamping a lot of the infrastructure right now.

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