Portland’s Debt Isn’t Rosy

By Christopher Robinson

The Federal Government isn’t the only one with a spending problem. Local governments are finding themselves under a mountain of debt as well. The City of Portland currently owes more than $6.5 billion in long-term obligations. That comes out to about $11,000 for each of the city’s residents.

Portland is required by law to have a balanced budget, meaning income has to equal expenditures. However, an Oregon Revised Statute permits Portland to issue revenue bonds for “any public purpose.” $3.6 billion of the city’s obligations come from the sale of such bonds. The balanced budget requirement doesn’t mean much when funding can be created so easily, simply by going into debt.

Furthermore, only $60 million of Portland’s bonds receive the highest Aaa rating from Moody’s. If the city continues massive spending without strong assets to back its borrowing, the majority of its bonds risk being downgraded. This would lead to an overall reduction in Portland’s credit rating, which would spell financial catastrophe.

The simple truth is that to remain fiscally responsible, you cannot spend what you do not have. Portland inevitably must raise taxes to pay for its obligations or cut spending. Given the still-troubled state of the economy, tightening belts and cutting spending is the best option.


Christopher Robinson is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn Post to Reddit

Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Economy, Leadership, Local Taxes, Metro, Portland Politics, Taxes | Tagged , | 45 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • DrDem

    Portland can easily afford to issue more and more of these bonds. We are a wealthy city with many wealthy people.
    If everyone would just pay their fare share in taxes we could solve this whole thing.
    Rich peoples must give more.
    Please.
    It is the only way.

    • Devin

      So how much is the riches “fair share”?  The Top 5% Pay 58.72% of the taxes, the top 50% pay 97.30%, what do “fair” look like to you?

      • DrDem

        The rich have all the money so they should pay all the taxes. I don’t have any money because I am an art history major and nobody will hire me. It is not my fault that nobody wants to learn about art and all it does for the soul.

        • C. Robinson

          I can’t tell if this intended to be a joke or not, but I’m going to assume it isn’t. “The rich have all the money so they should pay all the taxes” If that were logical, then where to would be the incentive to make money? Furthermore, what makes you think you are entitled to ANY of it. I’m 20 years old, I work extremely hard in school, and I hope to be very successful someday. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to see bums like you (yes, you are a bum) just assume that they will be able to live off my dime. It is absolutely ridiculous. “I am an art history major and nobody will hire me” BOO HOO! That’s the kind of attitude that will ensure you never find a job. Go send out some applications. I applied to tons of places before I found a job this summer. I spent HOURS looking for internships, writing applications, and getting letters of recommendation. It requires an effort. Better yet, be entrepreneurial. I happen to be a fine arts minor and find art quite interesting. I’m sure there are tons of people out there just like me. Figure out some way to monetize your interests. 

        • Devin

          Weath isnt just about money, its about things and services.  Let me ask you, you eat, you have a car, you have a place to live, you got an education in art history, why shouldnt you pay your fair share (I am not saying a lot, but a tiny bit)?  You say the rich have all the money, so lets talk about the poor in this country, the average person who is classified as poor by the Census Bureau has a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.  Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning (up from 36% in 1970).  More than two-thirds of poor housholds have more than two rooms per person.  The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe (thats the average non-poor person in europe).  Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television.  The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and, in most cases, is well above recommended norms. Poor children actually consume more meat than do higher-income children and have average protein intakes 100 percent above recommended levels.

          Clearly you wanted to learn about art history right?  So it isnt that nobody wants to learn right?

          • Devin

            You know I should probably explain what “I think is fair tax system”.  I support the “Fair Tax”, a revenue neutral changes that replaces all federal income taxes (including the alternative minimum tax, corporate income taxes, and capital gains taxes), payroll taxes (including Social Security and Medicare taxes), gift taxes, and estate taxes.  And replaces them with a single national consumption tax of 23%.  This is like a sales tax, but only applies to “new” goods and services (where the tax hasn’t already been applied to that good, so a used car wouldn’t be taxed).  Taxes up to the poverty line ($21,660) are tax free to everyone and refunded in a prebate of the money that would be spent (and an additional $3740 tax free per child).  If you make 20k a year, you pay 0 taxes.  So say your a family of 2 adults 1 child that makes $40k a year (about 10k below average in us), your first $25,400 is tax free, and so the rest ($14.6k) is taxed at 23% for $3,358 in taxes (paid as you purchase items).  Now this is only if you buy all new goods and services.  If you buy used goods, or save/invest your money you are not taxed on that at all.  Most poor people I know of tend to be fairly thrifty and buying a used product is something they do on a regular basis, if they buy 14,600 worth of used products, they pay 0 taxes, but even if they don’t their tax rate is only 8% (the current federal minimum tax bracket is 10%, and this couple would be in the 25% tax bracket).  None of this even gets into all the saving on the employeer side of the equation allowing employeers to give higher wages, and sell products for cheaper (causing people to have more buying power with the same number of $s).

  • Joelinpdx

    Another fact to make me glad I don’t live within the Portland city limits. Add the 46-thousand dollar national debt to the debt of 11-thousand dollars owed by every Portlander and that’s 58-thousand dollars. Pay up you deadbeats!

  • valley person

    Some fool(probably a corporate fascist) is using my moniker and posting like he’s me!  Make sure you Bushbots only respond to my postings and not his sub-moronic drivel.  Like I like to say “Wu hoo for Wu too”!

    • just doing the math

      How would we know? This site needs something like the O site
      where there cannot be duplicate faky names used. On a personal
      level, do you really take any of the comments on this site seriuosly?
      It appears to me that most posters just like to see themselves
      argue, (like the poster below). I swear, there must be many rolls
      of bounty used to wipe the computer screens clean of all the spittle
      some of the more argumentative posters must exude.

      • valley person

        I know!  There is some corporate fat cat using my moniker pretending to be me!  He’s an obvious fake.  His posts are written at a sub-mongoloid level while mine are obviously written by me!  And I work for the state so BAM!  Supersmartness!

      • the real valley person

        Well, I have a certain writing style. I don’t use exclamation points.  I’m more into irony than mere sarcasm. And I try not to make statements that make me or my political outlook appear foolish. So with that you have to use your judgment.

        Do I take anything here seriously? Sure, in the sense that people must believe what they choose to express. Unfortunately the few thoughtful conservatives who used to post here appear to have tired of the maniacal ones who mostly froth and spew, so I have to admit it isn’t much fun of late. Like debating with overly hormonal teenagers. 

        But crazy right-wing radicalism is unfortunately what has displaced cautious conservatism. They got ride of all their carpenters, who can actually build barns, and replaced them with jackasses, who only know how to kick barns down. Its the expression of a long term trend that with hope is near the end of its course. Meanwhile all the adults have left the room, leaving only fake valley persons to man the ramparts.

         

      • the real valley person

        Well, I have a certain writing style. I don’t use exclamation points.  I’m more into irony than mere sarcasm. And I try not to make statements that make me or my political outlook appear foolish. So with that you have to use your judgment.

        Do I take anything here seriously? Sure, in the sense that people must believe what they choose to express. Unfortunately the few thoughtful conservatives who used to post here appear to have tired of the maniacal ones who mostly froth and spew, so I have to admit it isn’t much fun of late. Like debating with overly hormonal teenagers. 

        But crazy right-wing radicalism is unfortunately what has displaced cautious conservatism. They got ride of all their carpenters, who can actually build barns, and replaced them with jackasses, who only know how to kick barns down. Its the expression of a long term trend that with hope is near the end of its course. Meanwhile all the adults have left the room, leaving only fake valley persons to man the ramparts.

         

        • the real valley person

          Oh yeah, and one more thing that crazy right-wing radicalism I’m talking about just won’t leave me alone!  All they do is troll my trolling!  All of their carpenters have turned into jackass monkeys that hate!  I’m the only adult left in here and that’s obvious…everyone else is a conservative wimp compared to my paper mache manliness!

        • just doing the math

          So, what I meant by the poster below, not you. But I see what you mean.
          This site is getting a little tiresome.

          • the real valley person

            Yes. I think the goal is to wear us out with nonsense. And it may be working. 

  • wnd

    Dopamine Mayor Sam Adams spends boo coo bucks for tight biker butts, CONmissioner Randy L00nard spills Water Bureau monies into pet reservoirs, other City Council sous chefs say if the ‘tournedos of grief’ seem unsavory, by all means byte us…buts we won’t flinch an inch.
    Little doubt, too, the Four Twenty crowd likes the amenities enough to delete a keystroke and toot out “POTLAND” – ah, indeed, the city that smirks, weirdly!       
     

  • Pingback: Blue Coaster33()

  • Pingback: weight loss techniques()

  • Pingback: watch movies online()

  • Pingback: tv online, online tv()

  • Pingback: kangen water()

  • Pingback: get satellite tv()

  • Pingback: stop parking()

  • Pingback: parking()

  • Pingback: lan penge nu uden renter()

  • Pingback: youporn()

  • Pingback: laan hurtige penge nu()

  • Pingback: water ionizer()

  • Pingback: water ionizer()

  • Pingback: pay per day loan plans()

  • Pingback: find electricians in my area()

  • Pingback: electrical pouches klein()

  • Pingback: a w locksmiths()

  • Pingback: m&n plumbers banbury()

  • Pingback: plumbers putty or silicone()

  • Pingback: house blue()

  • Pingback: website()

  • Pingback: helpful hints()

  • Pingback: read this()

  • Pingback: alkaline water brands()

  • Pingback: pay per day loans plan()

  • Pingback: alkaline water()

  • Pingback: alkaline water()

  • Pingback: do you agree()

  • Pingback: over here()

Stay Tuned...

Stay up to date with the latest political news and commentary from Oregon Catalyst through daily email updates:

Prefer another subscription option? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, become a fan on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Twitter Facebook

No Thanks (close this box)