Forty-Ninth in Class Size, Forty-Ninth in Corporate Tax Rate – Some Coincidence

Kristin Teigen

It seems that a great deal of what I do these days, as a parent, is raise money for schools. Like many other parents, I’m on the PTSA board and a handful of other committees. I’m not alone. Depending on the school, parents write grants, send out letters, organize events, buy wrapping paper, fill in the pledge sheets, and walk the neighborhood to sell magazine subscriptions. I think I’m on my fourth round of baking and it’s only October. In the words of a friend, “It’s just constant!”

The need to do so is clear. Every day, as I walk into my older son’s public school, I’m reminded of how much our educational system truly needs, and I am driven, compelled to try and fix it. His theater and technology programs have been cut and four more children have squeezed into his 2nd grade classroom this year. He now has 29 classmates and one teacher -- it’s no big surprise to me that Oregon ranks 49th in class sizes.

I’m happy to do what I can, despite my weariness of making one more cookie and writing one more grant. And sure, parents raise a lot of money – from thousands to tens of thousands to, depending on the school, hundreds of thousands.

It is not, however, $733 million. That’s how much Measures 66 and 67 aim to secure for our schools and other basic social services that many families so desperately need. If they pass in January, Oregon will go from 49th to 48th among corporate tax rates, and for the first time since 1931, Oregon corporations will be asked to pay more than a paltry $10 per year.

The measures also ask those households bringing in over $250,000 to pay about 2% more. While my family doesn’t come close to that kind of income, we would be more than happy to pay an increase, and not just for our own children. A myriad of studies show that funding public education is one of the best ways to lift a sinking economy out of the doldrums.

To be sure, these tax measures are not the ultimate cure. As an Oregonian and a parent, I wonder what it will take for voters and leaders to eventually decide upon a system of revenue that truly meets the needs of schools, basic human services and so many other necessary aspects of our infrastructure.

Until the best fix is found, however, parents like me need to fight for our schools, starting with signing the Defend Oregon pledge to vote yes on 66 and 67. We need to do more than vote in January, though. We need to get active, and get active now. After all, just think how hard it will be to sell $733 million in cookies.

  • mp97303 (unverified)

    just curious, where did you get your class size data. I can't find anything (probably not asking Google the right question)

  • (Show?)

    I’m all for passing Measures 67 and 68. Oregon needs a stable source of more revenue. I do think class size makes a difference.

    But, as you are concerned about more resources for education, and for lifting “a sinking economy out of the doldrums,” there are three other actions needed.

    (1) Oregon needs a more competitive proposal for the federal “Race to the Top” funds. As the Oregonian reported this morning (here), the first draft of Oregon’s proposal from the design team is now public. It does not, IMHO, do enough on performance pay for teachers to be a competitive proposal. Nor does it have much else that is innovative in it now. As I understand it, the Obama administration will award $4.3 billion among eight to ten states. Oregon may lose out on a big chunk of money.

    (2) Oregon could save educational dollars by accelerating the use on online education for students and parents that want it. Savings on online students would make existing funds available for other students. The legislative Online Education Task Force is currently meeting and could, and should, put proposals before the 2010 special legislative session to accelerate this shift in funding. For more on this topic, see my blog posts: “Why don’t we have a statewide virtual school” and “Cutting Educational Costs: Ninth Grade for $1,488.”

    (3) Oregon needs to invigorate its teaching of foreign languages and create a Go Global High School Study Abroad Program. We need to prepare more (not all, just more) of our students to sell our goods and services abroad because that’s where the money will be. That’s an important component of our economic future.

    I doubt if you will ever be able to stop having cookie sales, but passing Measures 67 and 68 surely would help.

  • (Show?)

    mp97303 -- got my info from here...

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    "I doubt if you will ever be able to stop having cookie sales, but passing Measures 67 and 68 surely would help."

    I spent several years in Europe and visiting a number of ports in the Far East and never heard of such a thing for raising funds for schools. Perhaps there is a difference in attitudes with Europeans, Japanese, Koreans and others placing a high value on education while there seems to be a preponderance of Americans who consider lower taxes a higher priority. Nor am I aware of European students graduating with a debt load in the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    A few years ago there was a poll in Europe regarding taxes where people averaged something in the range of 50 to 60 percent of income going to taxes. In general, the poll indicated Europeans were accepting of these high taxes because they believed they were getting value for money.

    On the other hand, their military organizations are pretty puny compared with our massive power that could blow the planet up and still have nukes left over. I guess it all revolves around national priorities.

  • mp97303 (unverified)

    So your contention is that there is some correlation between corporate tax rate and class size. So lets take a look at the numbers (The Tax Foundation for tax rate & US Dept of Education study used in the article)

    Based on this contention, it would be fair to assume that any state that has a lower corp tax rate couldn't possibly have a lower class size. Hmmm. Taking all states with a corp rate > 0 and < 6.6%(OR rate) gives us 17 out of 18 states, including Arkansas with the 5th lowest class size in the country.

    These states have a corporate rate a full 1.02 points lower on average and a class size of 3.1 students less than Oregon. Hmmm...

    Maybe we need to call Arkansas and find out how they can charge the same tax rate and still have 6.8 fewer students. They might provide some very interesting info on how we can live within our means.

    Or this could be a good lesson in making faulty correlations.....

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    "Maybe we need to call Arkansas and find out how they can charge the same tax rate and still have 6.8 fewer students. They might provide some very interesting info on how we can live within our means."

    Without checking data, I'll hazard a guess and say that Arkansas has nothing to brag about when it comes to quality of education. How much do they pay teachers there?

  • Lord Beaverbrook (unverified)

    Total agreement, for once! Won't nit-pick about kids pushing white powder baked goods.

  • Dil Mirch (unverified)

    Einstein comes to mind. "It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber."

  • mp97303 (unverified)


    Sorry, but quality of education is not a factor in this post, only the correlation of corp tax rates and class sizes.

  • LT (unverified)

    Dave, as someone who works part time with 9th graders, I'd like to see your thoughts on how online learning will help student comprehension. I'm talking about writing multiparagraph assignments and then discussing them with an adult who proofread the assignment and made corrections.

    I am talking about math classes where students down't understand the concept until they discuss it with others.

    I'm talking about the kids who don't understand the concept they are studying in social studies.

    "The legislative Online Education Task Force is currently meeting and could, and should, put proposals before the 2010 special legislative session to accelerate this shift in funding. "

    Dave, when you tell me your recent involvement with how 9th graders learn, I will take you more seriously. Or is it just about costs and policy, not about how individual kids learn ?

    Does online learning work better when there is a stay at home parent or not? If parents are working long hours (sometimes with low pay, sometimes more than one job) do they need face to face time with adults, or can all problems be solved if only all students had access to online learning?

    And how is foreign language taught online?

    I hope that the Online Learning Task Force spends time with actual kids learning online / in traditional schools before it decides one size fits all when it comes to online learning. Kids are not widgets!

  • matthew vantress (unverified)

    what a bald face lie this column is.when you include all taxes including fees,system development charges and etc oregon is not 49th in business taxes it is the top 5 in the nation in total business taxation.the liberals are too lazy and afraid to include all taxes and fees businesses pay in oregon.maam the schools already get stable money at 10,000 bucks a kid kristen and dont need another dime.your school district is still wasting money on consultants at the same time programs for the kids are cut.we alraedy have a stable revenue system for schools now kristen.10,000 bucks a kid is plenty of money.oregon spends more per pupil than any other state in the west.pers will eat up most if not all of that 733 million.i am getting sick and tired of funding public employees including teachers bloated retirement pensions.let them suffer a little financially like all of us in the private sector are now.

  • rw (unverified)

    Dear Matthew: "bald face"? The vernacular is "bald-faced".

    CF online learning - we experienced that this is not the best way for a student to learn. It's being sold to kids who failed and desperately need to make up the credits they are missing - I do not feel sure this is the best way for kids who need help to be completing their schooling.

  • Richard (unverified)

    If ever there were a place where more tax dollars directed at public education would result in no improvement it's Oregon. Well other than the made up self reported improvement.

  • (Show?)

    i love the wingnutty goodness of some "rebuttal" posts like Matthew's. hi-lariously. "let's see. what sort of stuff have i got here to throw out along with the kitchen sink?" and then there's: "damn! no room to put spaces after periods!" a post on education, and he thinks we'll take him seriously like that? adorable.

  • (Show?)

    @LT, online classes are not for every student nor every subject. I did say “for students and parents that want it.”

    But consider this: at the high school level, a student needs to take 6 courses per year to get 24 credits to graduate. The state school fund pays each local school district an average of about $6,100 per student per year. With local, federal and other sources of funding thrown in, the average cost per student per year in Oregon is around $10,000. For that high school student with 6 courses, and on average, the state is paying about $1,015 per credit, and the total cost per credit is about $1,666.

    Consider, for examples of online costs, that BYU’s independent study high school program charges $248 per credit and SK Online (operated by Salem-Keizer Public Schools) charges $530 per credit for out-of-district students.

    When appropriate, money can be saved by shifting students to online courses. The money saved can then be used for other students.

  • Ryan (unverified)

    Bill did a good job of dispelling the author's premise.

    How does Oregon rank on spending per student? This is what leftys should be bitching about, assuming their argument that more money can fix government schools. One source I found by doing a quick Google says Oregon ranks 21st.

    More money will not fix government schools. Sorry, guys. But raising taxes on small-business owners who declare their business' income on their tax returns will kill MORE jobs. Will their parents being on welfare/unemployment be good for kids?

    Teachers' unions are a strong force in this state, and teachers' unions are bad for kids and bad for everyone except incompetent teachers.

  • matthew vantress (unverified)

    oregon actually when you include the all funds budget not the general funds budget last time i looked it up is in the top 5 to 10 in the nation in per pupil spending.we need to include the all funds budget not the general funds budget numbers in our school funding arguments and the democrats and the education crowd and supporters never do.

  • matthew vantress (unverified)

    oregon when you include the all funds budget per pupil not the general funds budget funds schools well above the national average.thats what the liberal media never bothers to mention and doonsebury never bothered to mention years ago either.

  • Peri Brown (unverified)

    So, just to keep progress here for those that deny that the wolf is at the door...

    First, dittoheads and wingnuts only showed up at the mention of CO2 or climate change. They would fart every now and then on the issue of the economy, but that was pretty much beyond their sound byte comprehension.

    Then came health care. This seems to have loosened their bowels to foul every discussion, now. As recently as last spring, you would not have a single one of those Hannity love slaves making points on education. Now they equal the rational debate.

    I won't reiterate the #bringbackdueling logic, but its the only proposal on the table for dealing with these destroyers and hate mongers. As long as every issue promoter sees it as an ad hoc problem, things will only get worse and worse.

    This is one of the reasons BO needs validated IDs. It would perhaps get through some thick skulls to find that 90% of the dittohead militants are genX males. You wouldn't deal with it when idiots lapped up "Morning in America" and decided to have a few more kids. You never made them responsible for outcomes, all through school. The participation generation. "I also ran". Wouldn't want to make them feel bad pointing out they've accomplished nothing. Then those values trickled down to the workplace. Now you have a generation that has never been accountable for anything, uneducated, blanks on the whim of their status quo parents, being mobilized by Irish American males that have decided that fomenting discord in the halls of our legislative bodies is a damned good income.

    If we don't deal with that, climate change, defense policy, education...none will be addressed adequately. We can all start by boycotting these people. The original meaning of the term was applied to a greedy landlord and it meant to socially isolate him, to "make him feel very alone". These mindless pack animals can't handle that. You see them at the workplace, they wait on you in stores, they stand with you in lines. Start by refusing to deal with them on any level. Let them see what it's like to get zero cooperation. If this describes your child, cut them off. Stop whining and then supporting them. They don't have to have a car when they turn 15. They can get a summer job when they're in college. Yeah, send them to college. If they've failed and can't get there, then withhold the goodies until the address the issue. You are not helping them otherwise. For those that say, "I just could never...", consider that we aren't going to sit here forever and let them foul every nest they happen to notice. Time is short before radical progressives, outside the law, start lynching wingnuts.

    The fact that only liberals and not one dittohead has responded to the #bringbackdueling campaign shows that it is all cowardly talk. Pierce the hallucinatory veil of half-truths, superstition and fear. No amount of money spent on education will make a difference if they are allowed to be mindless feral consuming apes in the home.

    Kristin's donation of so much time and energy is laudable. It might also help to mention to some of those parents that the job would be easier if their little boys weren't such jerks.

  • Garage Wine (unverified)

    Bill Boden says: Without checking data, I'll hazard a guess and say that Arkansas has nothing to brag about when it comes to quality of education.

    If you don't have data, stick with stereotypes. I think Glenn Beck is hiring ...

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Kirsten, how much of the $733 Million will go to plug the gaping $17 Billion dollar hole in PERS? According to conservative estimates, city, county, school district and state agencies will see their PERS contributions increase by over 40% to cover the shortfall.

  • (Show?)

    Matthew V wrote: "when you include all taxes including fees,system development charges and etc oregon is not 49th in business taxes it is the top 5 in the nation in total business taxation."

    You have a source for that claim? Because the pro-corporate anti-tax Council on State Taxation (COST) is the group that said (praised) Oregon was #49 in overall business taxes.

  • Janek51 (unverified)

    Matthew V, you obviously learned sentence structure from "Palin's Guide to Grammar and Syntax, You Betcha!"

  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)

    Matthew is too lazy to properly use the caps or space button while texting. I had a teacher that used to say "if you're too lazy to write it properly, why should I spend my time trying to decipher it". Which is why I just skip Matthew's comments, here and on other blogs.

    Measures 66 and 67 must pass or we're going to face many cuts and not just to education. It's critical that we get out and hit the streets, knock on doors and educate people about these measures and make sure we turn out the vote in January.

  • alcatross (unverified)

    Kari Chisolm commented: Because the pro-corporate anti-tax Council on State Taxation (COST) is the group that said (praised) Oregon was #49 in overall business taxes.

    The COST study cited ad infinitum here does not include all those 'fees, system development charges and etc' more unique to Oregon - so the COST study only presents a partial picture (and we all know the reason OR ranked so low was due to the lack of a state sales tax - which is less a tax on business than a pass-through tax to the consumer...) Also note there was a recent Forbes listing referenced here in a post not long ago that had Oregon ranked 46th for best business regulatory environment.

    Oregon may not be in the top 5 for business 'taxation' (by a broader definition - or maybe we should call it 'total government-related or regulatory cost of doing business') but I don't honestly believe Oregon is #49 either. Like most topics of this nature, the truth likely lies somewhere in between.

    If Oregon was such a great low tax environment for business one would think they'd be lined up trying to get in. In my 12 years here I haven't seen that to be the case - somewhat the opposite, in fact.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    "Bill Boden says: Without checking data, I'll hazard a guess and say that Arkansas has nothing to brag about when it comes to quality of education.

    If you don't have data, stick with stereotypes."

    First of all, when I said I would hazard a guess that carried an implication I conceded I could be wrong. On the other hand, data in the past have shown that educational attainment in the Southeast left much to be desired. Not only that, but recent data have shown the same can be said of the nation as a whole, especially in math and science.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Bill, you are spot on regarding the nation as a whole regarding a downward trend in math and science. Oregon has already recognized that the K-12 public education system is way behind when it comes to reading, English comprehension and math, yet put off doing anything until 2013.

    Parents and grandparents fed up with this trend are turning to home schools, charter schools, private schools and on-line alternatives. That pretty much tends to take them out of the mainstream voter block for increased public education funding - or does it?

  • Mike M (unverified)


    This parent sends his child to a private school high school. I can assure you that in addition to the pricey tuition, I still pay my share of income and property taxes. No discount for me, nor any tax benefit. If anything the migration to private schools and home schooling stuffs even more money into the public school funding, as all parents (and grandparents) must continue to pay income and property taxes. As yet, there are no tax credits for K-12 tuition payments.

    I have years of volunteer experience at the K-12 level, and led several efforts to improve them; some with results, some not. As president of the local parent/teacher organization, I shied away from the bake sales and other fund-raising efforts, instead focusing on more productive efforts to raise funds with considerable success. The "write-a-check" and other partnerships with local businesses were key components, resulting in more funding to share with the school. My biggest disappointment though was that teachers did not always take us up on our offer to write a short proposal to justify and request a grant for extra classroom funding. For the few that did write, all were granted. I can assure you that the hurdle was not very high.

    Many continue to debate what level of school funding is appropriate. Considerable words have been expressed explaining why funding is too little. Looking only at $$$/student shows a clear increase over time but with little to show for it. Could it be that the increased funding simply went to ever increasing salaries and benefits rather than improved and effective teaching methods?

    Upthread there is brief mention of focusing on effective instruction.

    I'm an advocate of effective funding for our schools. Someday I hope to see efforts directed towards actual improvements instead of always blaming inadequate funding as the cause for all our ills.

    Rather than continuing to promote one size fits all for our public schools, I am an advocate of grouping by ability, and identifying curriculum tracks to focus on achievable career preparation for our students. Instead of making everyone college ready, we need to come to grips with the fact that not everyone should go to college. Vocational tracks should be developed, and we should have tools in place for our students to measure their aptitude and help them with the right path.

    A challenge for our colleges today is that too many students are showing up, ill prepared to do the work expected. This leads to "5th-year" seniors, and sizable attrition between freshman and sophomore years at colleges.

    I've lived in Oregon for 30+ years, and the one thing we can count on hearing year after year is that the schools aren't adequately funded, no matter how much is added each biennium.

    One thing I do know for sure is that my earned income has been flat for many years, yet my overall tax burden has continued to increase. Their simply is no easy answer to our expenses growing faster than our ability to pay.

    I for one would like to see some encouragement to attracting businesses with the potential for higher paying jobs.

    As for the two measures? Whether they pass or not, the end result will be the same - there will be a hole; there will not be enough tax revenue to meet Oregon's ever expanding needs. We simply must figure out a way to match our spending to our ability to pay.

  • (Show?)


    I'll surely vote yes on 66 and 67, but schools are not, sadly, the motivating force for me. The reason for me is one of basic equity: I see no reason at all that our state or any state needs what is essentially a modified flat tax system.

    This site ( is a wonderful site that points out how very unusual we are given our lack of bracketing.

    2% from high income tax payers will make nary a difference in their marginal quality of life and will go a long way toward stabilizing Oregon's revenue system.

    I feel the same way about the corporate minimum: a very, very modest increase in the minimum is generating all this excitement?

    But I don't kid myself that this will help what our race to the bottom in schooling. Sorry to seem so cynical, but I've watched friends and colleagues move out of state or move their kids to private schools because they can't take the tolerance for mediocrity.

    And, along with Dave, I am very skeptical that we are going to be at all competitive for the "Race to the Top" funding. Why would we be? We've been starving our schools from K-16 for the past quarter century, and our economic competitiveness has followed suit.

  • Steve (unverified)

    Oregon 31st in per capita income and sinking after being 22nd 10 years ago. Coincidence?

  • (Show?)

    Could it be that the increased funding simply went to ever increasing salaries and benefits rather than improved and effective teaching methods?

    Health care. Health care. Health care.

    The biggest expense in education is teachers. And the fastest rising costs in teachers is health care.

    Our education funding problem is related, very strongly, to the health care problem. Want to fix the education funding problem? Make sure that we have a health reform plan that bends the cost curve down.

  • LT (unverified)

    Right on, Kari!

    And about "ever increasing salaries". Makes it sound as if teachers should be paid a specific amount and if they wanted to earn more they could get a job elsewhere.

    Just heard an author on CSPAN Book TV talking about the difference between Walmart and major grocery chains (Safeway, etc.)

    A person working at Walmart may or may not ever make enough money for a career. But the author said that a person starting out at a store like Safeway might make the same as a Walmart worker, but with seniority and possible advancement, they might end up making a serious living and a career--maybe even a salary rivaling that of a teacher.

    So the question is, do we want a system where women teach for a few years and then quit to have kids and that is OK because they aren't really talented professionals, teachers are a dime a dozen?

    Or do we want people to make a career out of teaching?

    BTW, SJ has a wonderful chart on the front page of the Sunday print edition.

    How the tax measures would affect 3 companies:

    A) $140,303 in Oregon sales, more than $12,000 more in deductions than in total income, and a difference in tax owed that is less than 1% of their Oregon sales.

    B) Taxable income is below $250,000. No difference in taxes owed.

    C) Sales of $106,239,073 would owe a difference of $35,904 in taxes.

    For those of us who have worked frontline jobs (child care, sales, etc.), incl. some part time and/or temp jobs and never had a taxable income anywhere near $50,000, why should we have sympathy for the large company C---just because the lobbyists say so?

    Whatever else I may think of Steve Shields, I liked what he said last night on KGW, "Listen, I have actually relocated companies, and taxes were only one variable" (not exact quote, but close).

    Exactly how many of the lobbyists for AOI, OBA, NFIB etc. have actually created jobs--when did they ever run a company? And Pat McCormick and Mark Nelson, are you aware that there are folks out in the big wide world who wonder whether being a political consultant is an honest living?

    Say what you will about our State Treasurer, he has been an entrepreneur as well as a rancher. How many jobs have all the AOI lobbyists, Mark and Pat, and all the other big names on the anti-tax side ever created? As many as someone who opened a small gift shop or candy store, or someone who took over a family manufacturing business?

  • Mike M (unverified)

    Kari: as I typed benefits, I did have healthcare expenses in mind

    LT: when I typed "ever increasing salaries" I had step increases in mind. I think our teachers should be paid well. However, I also believe that there are a few that should not be getting the automatic step increases.

    Certainly years of service are one factor of increased experience, however seniority alone is not the sole determinant that identifies our best teachers.

    I have many friends who are teachers; of course, we don't always agree on everything. I also taught computer classes for several years as a volunteer. Technically, not a teacher, but one who had the skills to teach skills the teachers could not.

    I am not trying to make pay and benefits an issue, but simply want to point out that these costs have increased at a rate faster than our ability to pay. This goes for all jobs in the public sector.

    The measures at hand are simply a short term attempt at a fix.

  • matthew vantress (unverified)

    research the figures kari and stop listening to all the same old tired liberal gloom and doom nonsense.there is plenty to cut in state about a major league cut in the size of the state govt and in pers ms mel harmon?i wish you liberals would stop trying the same old tired liberal scare tactics because many oregoninas see through you.i am voting no on 66 and 67 because the state is not as broke as they claim and the situation is way overblown on this blue oregon site.the liberals never include every dollar the state actually gets only the general funds which are always millions less than the all funds in your arguments.the state has a 54 billion all funds budget now and thats more than enough money.66 and 67 must fail if not then unemployment will continue to rise and businesses will leave oregon and then where are these educated school kids going to go to finds jobs all you education and pro 66 and 67 advocates?baloney we have been starving our schools they have been getting 10,000 bucks a kid for the last 15 to 20 years so enough of that nonsense.we have no education funding problem only a school spending problem and its time you liberals woke up and realized that.

  • Michael (unverified)

    Last I checked these bills are taxes and they're not tied directly to education.

    Using education as a reason to vote for the bills is disingenuous at the least.

    That being said, I am on the fence abut these bills, as raising taxes for the hell of it won't solve the state's bloated government and excess bureaucracy.

  • Bill (unverified)

    Since Paul G. said our site was wonderful, especially our table of individual income tax rates (, I'll weigh in with a few tidbits:

    --a similar table of state corporate tax rates is here: (we posted the new 7.9% rate, but we haven't posted the unusual new array of minimum taxes). Skimming that table, I see 14 states that will still have a higher CIT rate than Oregon if the referendum confirms the legislature's decision to impose the new rate.

    --a new study by the OECD (no bunch of wingnuts) found, "Corporate taxes are found to be most harmful for growth, followed by personal income taxes ..." ("Taxes and Economic Growth," Economics Department Working Paper No. 620, by Åsa Johansson, Christopher Heady, Jens Arnold, Bert Brys and Laura Vartia)

    --earmarking is bogus, as one commenter pointed out, but since the education industry is a powerful lobby, it is probably safe to assume that if major new revenues are generated, K-12 will get its share

    --another commenter smartly pointed out that it's the total tax burden that matters, not one particular source. We consider your state economy to benefit greatly from the zero sales tax rate, and we calculate the percentage of all Oregon income that's paid out in state-local taxes to be 9.7%, right at the national average:

    --another commenter was smart to point to the deficiency in public employee pension funds. That is the sleeping fiscal giant that's going to start rivalling K-12 and Medicaid for public funds.

    Great site.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Kari - Health Care, Health Care, Health Care

    Kurt - PERS, PERS, PERS

    Actually Kari, many school districts with self-insured plans have seen health care costs well below the state wide average over the past 6 years (2 contract cycles). That is because the local unions and school district administrations have worked closely together in order to educate the policy holders and dependents on the drivers of costs. Wellness programs recently initiated have also begun to drive down costs.

    On the other hand, PERS costs incurred to fill the unfunded liability gap beginning in 2002 have risen and by design must be filled by the local school districts. Many districts took out public obligation bonds on their own when interest rates were low in order to help fill the gap. Now, we discover that last years stock market crash has led to an additional hige loss in PERS accounts. This will force yet more revenue siphoning from school districts, city, county and state agencies. The hit will translate to more lost positions.

    The PERS problem is not the fault of local school districts, teachers unions or public employee unions. It is squarely the fault of state government, governors and elected officials who oversee PERS.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Some Germans have an interesting attitude towards taxes. Germany also has a prestigious educational system. Could it be that rich Germans calling for an increase in their taxes are putting all of this at risk?

  • Tom Vail (unverified)

    Mike M.'s comment is very impressive. In rejecting the argument that improper funding is the reason for problems with public education, he opens the door to discuss issues that may be at the heart of the problem. What can we learn from states (stereotypes aside) that appear to produce a better result for less money? Where does the money for education really go? What percentage of taxes earmarked for education ends up in the classroom and how much is syphoned off due to inefficiencies in administration of the funds?
    If, instead of creating a class warfare to pass a new tax, we looked at how funds are spent, could we have a better result? Mike M.'s final line, " We simply must figure out a way to match our spending to our ability to pay." is, imho, the most important in this entire thread.

  • Natty Dreds (unverified)

    We need to support these tax measures in order to fund the PERS retirement and health care benefits our public employees and teachers so desperately need. Government is big business in this state, and the only way to create good family wage jobs is through growth in government services. The private sector has consistently shown it is not able to deliver good paying jobs with adequate retirement and health benefits. And if we didn’t mandate minimum wages in the private sector we’d all still be making $5.65 an hour. Measures 66 and 67 are a good first step toward the type of tax policy that is needed to grow Oregon’s economy.

  • Mike M (unverified)


    These two measures only scratch the surface of the future PERS obligations. No way do these measures resolve their funding and payout obligations. You may want to read the front page article in Sunday's Oregonian. And then there are the public pension obligations at the local level for the public offices that chose not to be a part of PERS. The City of Portland have a huge unfunded pension obligation for some of the city departments.

    Also, there is no way Oregon can exist without private sector businesses. The state has no way to generate a profit to fund its expenses; it is not a business. Tax revenues, fees and Fed funds are the primary sources of funding. As far as I know, no significant revenues are generated simply by people sending their extra money into the state coffers.

  • LT (unverified)

    Here is something to think about--perhaps it is a philosophical question.

    Sometimes our district has town hall meetings in high school auditoriums or other similar locations. They are called School Talk, feature the Supt., the School board chair and a few others, and include, among other things, Q & A from the audience.

    Local CCTV televised the most recent one, in which the Supt. had this comment:

    "We need to start talking more about educating children and less about taxes and spending."

    So, here is the philosophical question: is she right?

    How many students are educated by talk about PERS, payroll, health and other benefits? Yes, that discussion is important, but that wasn't the question.

    How many people who discuss those items know or care what it takes to graduate from high school these days?

    Or the cost to the economy if all secondary students don't graduate?

    Or that there is a national movement to start dropout prevention in middle school (and there are debates about the whole middle school system vs. K-8 schools)?
    Or that for all the important talk about early childhood education, we mustn't forget secondary students?


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