by Senator Alan Olsen (R-Canby)
Steve Duin, without nuance or subtlety, drew the sweeping conclusion in his January 28th column that Salem Republicans have no solutions to offer beyond the “mystical cure-all of job creation.” Duin is wrong to so dismissively turn up his nose at the powerful antidote that prosperity offers to the state, as he is wrong to claim that Republicans are void of practical solutions to our state’s challenges. Let me set the record straight on both counts.
First, let’s talk about whether job creation is something state legislators should be focused on or if it is, as Duin suggests, a “mystical cure-all.”
While Duin may think job creation a passé’ approach to solving the state’s challenges, the 360,000 Oregonians who are functionally unemployed consider job creation the most powerful cure for the state’s most important problem.
For these individuals and the families they represent, the desperate need to find a job that pays the bills is ever-present; it eats away at their peace of mind and strains their relationships; it nibbles at their sense of self-worth and consumes the majority of their mental and emotional energy. Finding a job is their top concern, and I think it should be the legislature’s top concern as well.
But it isn’t just unemployed Oregonians who need more jobs. The more Oregonians who have jobs, the more income taxes the state collects. And the more taxes the state collects, the more resources are available to pay for new teachers, reduce class sizes, hire more police officers, and fund hundreds of other important priorities. A long term increase in revenue always starts with a paycheck in someone’s pocket.
Duin can like it or not, but creating jobs remains the most sustainable way to adequately fund core services and give families a shot at success.
To add unjust insult to undeserved injury, Duin trumpets the baseless opinion that Republicans are without tangible solutions to Oregon’s problems. The facts disagree with Duin. Let me give you just a few examples.
Senator Bruce Starr and Senator Frank Morse have consistently introduced legislation to provide stable funding for K-12 education and other core services by establishing a robust state savings account. Their plans are detailed and nuanced.
Senate Republicans are pushing to set a floor for K-12 funding at 15% of state spending. If successful, no legislature would be able to fund classrooms at anything less than 15% of state resources. Democrats have taken state education funding from 15% of spending in 1999 to 9% in 2011.
Republicans have a plan to reduce the taxes paid by lower and middle income families. They are also pushing to offer tax certainty to small businesses across Oregon, similar to what Nike received from the Governor at the end of last year.
It is fair for Duin to disagree with the policy proposals that Republicans are offering. It is not fair to claim that Republicans don’t have specific solutions. But what’s more concerning is Duin’s disdain for job creation, when jobs are what Oregon needs most right now.