Senator Jason Atkinson: Taxes, school bullying, budget, more.

From State Senator Jason Atkinson
Newsletter

Items reviewed in this newsletter: Back to Basics Budget Makes Sense for Oregon and Does Not Raise Taxes, 81st Day Bill to Senate Floor, Crack Down on Bullying in Schools,Vote Against Vehicle Tax Increases and Work to Eliminate Taxes on Unemployment.

Atkinson Brings 81st Day Bill to Senate Floor

During a floor session last week the Senator made a motion to withdraw SJR 19, the 81st Day Bill, from the Education and General Government Committee. Senate Joint Resolution 19, otherwise known as the 81st Day Bill, would constitutionally require the Oregon legislature to pass a K-12 budget by the 81st Day of the legislative session; if the budget is not passed by that time, the legislators forfeit their salaries. If passed, the resolution would be put to the Oregon people for a vote on the November 2010 ballot. Procedurally, moving to withdraw a bill from committee removes the bill from whatever committee it is in and allows it to be introduced on the floor. Twelve senators voted for the motion, 17 against, voting along party lines.

Senator Atkinson believes, “It is time to make education the priority we all say that it is. Ninety-one of us, one Governor, 60 Representatives, and 30 Senators all say education is the priority. But it is always the last budget passed. Politics have no place in Oregon classrooms. States like Florida, Washington and Nevada can pass their entire budgets in 60 days, and we should be able to budget for schools in 81 days.”

Back to Basics Budget Makes Sense for Oregon and Does Not Raise Taxes

The Co-Chairs of the Joint Ways and Means Committee (Democrats Sen. Margaret Carter of Portland and Rep. Peter Buckley of Ashland) released their proposed budget (the Co-Chairs’ Recommended Budget). Within the budget the Co-Chairs say they are proposing “strategic cuts” in every area of the budget. In the budget overview, the Co-Chairs claim they are “tightening our belts and doing everything we can to protect our kids and our vulnerable citizens”. However, the proposed budget is actually increasing spending from the last biennium.

Prior to the release of the Co-Chairs’ Recommended Budget, Senate Republicans released their own budget proposal, the Back to Basics Budget. The Back to Basics budget fully funds education, humane services, and public safety, and leaves a significant amount left in state reserves, and allows for legislative add-backs after the three most essential functions of government are funded. It does all of this without raising taxes on Oregon families.

For more information, go to www.backtobasicsbudget.com. There, you can find the Republican recommended budget, along with the Top Ten Truths about the Oregon Budget. The Top Ten Truths are a 10-day series of truths about the Oregon budget; here you can find Truths #8, #9, and #10.

Oregon Senate Cracks Down on Bullying in Schools

Bullying in schools is not limited to physical acts, nor does it stop after elementary school; it effects children’s learning environment and mental well-being, and also has the potential to affect many for their entire life. Yesterday the Senate recognized the seriousness of bullying in the K-12 system in Oregon, and passed HB 2599, which cracks down on bullying in Oregon’s schools.

Atkinson Works to Eliminate Taxes on Unemployment

After the last newsletter, there was a good deal of response, both in the form of emails and phone calls, about Senator Atkinson’s bill to eliminate taxes on unemployment benefits (SB 975). The responses raised a number of issues and questions about the definition of unemployment and how Unemployment Insurance works.

The official definition of unemployment used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics includes anyone age 16 or older who is not institutionalized and is not currently employed, but able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work. A common misconception is that unemployment only represents those who are receiving unemployment benefits. However, many people who are unemployed and represented by the unemployment rate and various unemployment figures, a rough number is 35-40%, are not even eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits. Examples include those who have exhausted unemployment benefits but continue to seek work, new labor market entrants — including recent high school and college graduates — and the formerly self-employed.

The official definition of unemployment also excludes certain groups who are sometimes thought of as being unemployed or “underemployed.” Those who would like to work, but who have stopped looking for work are not counted in the official definition because they are not actively seeking work. People working part time who would prefer full-time work are also not counted as unemployed because they are working, even fewer hours than they would like.

The Unemployment Rate, then, is the total number of “unemployed” persons divided by the civilian labor force (the total population minus the incarcerated, those in the military, and those under 16). Again, it is not the number of persons receiving unemployment benefits. The Unemployment Insurance program is unrelated to the unemployment rate.

The Unemployment Insurance system is fairly simple, and there are specific requirements as to who qualifies for and who pays for unemployment benefits. First, Unemployment Insurance is a 100% employer paid system. Taxes taken from workers’ paychecks do not go towards unemployment system.

Second, the unemployment insurance system was designed to give individuals, who were out of work through no fault of their own, partial income replacement until they found another job. The requirements to receive unemployment benefits are that a person must have earned at least $1,000 in the previous calendar year, and be physically/mentally able to work, actively seeking work, and must take any work that is available that is the type of work they are looking for. If someone stops seeking work or turns down a job offer, they are no longer eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

Third, if a person has worked both out of state and in Oregon in the previous year, then they have a “combined wage claim”. They receive a portion of their benefits based on the wages they earned in Oregon, and a portion based on the wages they earned out-of-state. The other state agency then reimburses Oregon’s Department of Unemployment for the benefits paid.

Senator Atkinson believes that for those individuals, many of whom are unemployed for the first time in their lives, should not be taxed in this economy when they are trying to get back on their feet. Currently in the House, Senator Atkinson’s idea of not taxing unemployment benefits has been proposed in the -4 amendments to House Bill 2649. What this means is that should the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education adopt the -4 amendments, then the goal of SB 975 would effectively become part of HB 2649.

Atkinson Votes Against Vehicle Tax Increases

As part of his belief in not increasing taxes during an economic downturn, Senator Atkinson against HB 2001 on the senate floor last Friday, which contained increases in the gas tax and vehicle registration fees.

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Posted by at 05:45 | Posted in Measure 37 | 25 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jessie

    I am very glad the Senate is going to take on the bullying at school. My son, Moonbeam, was teased every day at school because the students thought his name was funny. We tried everything – talked to the teachers, the principal, other parents – and he was still teased. We even game him candy to give to the other kids so they would like him. It did not work because we only use sugarless candy in our home. Kids called him Moonshine, Man in the Moon, Moondog, Moonie, Moon-Moon, and other hurtful names almost every day. Finally, we decided to home school him rather than have him face these devil taunts. He was so happy to be in a loving, caring environment without the taunting and teasing and bullying.

    Now that the Senate is going to help people like us, someday Moonbeam may return to the public schools where we could get some justice if he was teased again because of his name.
    Thanks everyone in the Senate.

    People like us need your strength and help from time to time and we are very glad you know this and have finally done something to help people like Moonbeam.

    By the way, he got 72% on his testing, so homeschooling works!!

    • eagle eye

      I kind of like “Moondog”.

  • anonymous

    Parents that would name their kid “Moonbeam”. My oh my

  • Beaverton Working Man

    I have to tell you, anyone who would name their son Moonbeam and send him off to public school and not expect him to be teased probably ought not homeschool the poor kid. I would not want to be educated by someone who was short-sighted enough to name me Moonbeam.

    Well, on the other hand, look what it did for a “Boy named Sue.” It made him tough as nails, but that was only because he stayed and dealt with the bullies.

  • dian

    The kid probably hates his parents for sticking him with a name like that. A girl maybe, but not a boy. It smacks of abuse to me. Kind of like a boy named Sue.

    Don’t be surprised Mom and Dad if the kid doesn’t cause you some real problems.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Hey – Just checking here but does anyone have a line on when all the new green jobs we were promised are going to kick in?

    So when will be the date our employment figures will go up?

    Surly this is not too much to ask is it? After all, if “science” can predict the temperature of the earth to within fractions of a degree decades or centurys out, then of course we could predict employment levels, something totally under mans control with even greater precision.

    • happy to help

      On point one, I cruised by the Solar World facility in Hillsboro the other day. Not sure how many work there at present, but it is a big facility and they project 1000 just in manufacturing within a year or 2. Vestas is building their North American headquaters in Portland, and they employ in the hundreds. Then there are port & trucking jobs bringing in the turbines and blades, the engineer and environmental jobs to plan site development, construction jobs building the turbines, and the operator jobs.Plus the rent that the landowners collect over a period of years. Any energy generated in Oregon is likely to create more Oregon jobs than is imported energy.

      So the short answer is these jobs are already here and they are growing by the day, unlike say GM or Chrysler or oil drilling (since we lack oil).

      As for employment figures going back up, much of the job loss in Oregon has been in construction, real estate, and retail. Some construction jobs are already coming back. The others will take a while since you need the base recovery before you get increased retail spending. Full employment recovery from every recession has taken several years, and this one will be no different.

      Try to recall that a few months ago the fear was arresting the slide into a 2nd great depression. Now we are talking recovery. That is progress.

      On point two, scientists cannot and do not *predict* the temperature of the earth to within fractions of a degree decades or centuries out. They *model* scenarios based on variables. Economists do the same thing. They model. If this and this input then that result.

      • eagle eye

        Are you saying that climate science is no more of a science than is economics?

        • happy to help

          Climate science is based on physics, while economics is based on human behavior. But the physics of climate science are influenced by human behavior in the form of greenhouse gas emissions, so modeling, not prediction, is the best one can hope for in both cases. As the Scott’s say, “There is nay queerer than folk.”

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >But the physics of climate science are influenced by human behavior in the form of greenhouse gas emissions,

            The physics of a science can be affected by human behaviour? I have never heard of such a thing. So if I drink lemonade, or shuffle card, there is a chance of reversal of the physics behind gravity and a ball could fall upward? Or I could turn a particle with one spin into a 2 spin particle across the universe?

            Astonishing!

            The physics of a science do not change with human behaviour. That’s nonsense. Humans can have an effect on a physical system, but to think the underlying physics of such a system would change with human behaviour is sheer folly.

            At any rate, we are left with the question. Does human behaviour affect the climate in a non negligible manner? This is a hypothesis, however it has never been proven to be true in a rigorous scientific manner. This was my point. The same bozo’s that say they can predict the temperature decades out with such precision and claim to know mankind’s effect on such things, are unwilling to predict the employment from all these green jobs one or two years out.

            The one thing in common with all schemes to get rich on end of the world scenarios is that they all predict past the lifetime of the oracle. Let’s try holding their feet to the fire on something that they have predicted ( we were promised lots of new green jobs ) that is more near term.

            I say if unemployment in Oregon does not drop quite soon from these new jobs that were promised, then we will know the value of these scientists more grand predictions!

      • Rupert in Springfield

        Ok – I wasn’t asking about whether there were jobs, I was simply asking for a prediction of the unemployment rate.

        While you are at it though, if the jobs are here and growing by the day, why is Oregon’s unemployment rising and second highest in the nation?

        Just a real simply prediction though would suffice. We know we can predict the temperature on a world wide basis within a degree or so. That’s roughly a prediction that assumes one or two percent accuracy. So, if that’s true, could we then have employment number, within the same accuracy? Ill even be nice and ask for a prediction just one year out.

        We know the jobs are here, apparently Dean sees them

        We know they are growing, apparently Dean sees that as well.

        So, why is our unemployment rising? and what will it be next year?

        Only “science” can tell!!!!

        >Try to recall that a few months ago the fear was arresting the slide into a 2nd great depression. Now we are talking recovery. That is progress.

        Actually that’s not progress, that’s spin. Unemployment is up, national debt is up, and we have just had bankruptcies in GM. There is not a single indicator I can think of that is better now than a few months ago. Well, maybe the rate of job loss has slowed for a short period.

        Doubles plus good though that you can get you mind right on this one Winston. Truly to think we are in better shape now than a few months ago is a most righous case of double think! Red sash for you my boy!

        >On point two, scientists cannot and do not predict the temperature of the earth to within fractions of a degree decades or centuries out. They model scenarios based on variables.

        Yawn – Lets just have your prediction ok? No one wants to hear you pop off with models and semantic arguments.

        So, just put up and shut up, unemployment rate with 2% accuracy or better for next year?

        • still happy to help

          “Ok – I wasn’t asking about whether there were jobs, I was simply asking for a prediction of the unemployment rate. ”

          The answer is it depends on the rate of recovery.

          “While you are at it though, if the jobs are here and growing by the day, why is Oregon’s unemployment rising and second highest in the nation?”

          Just because some people are busy building wind turbines or solar panels or insulating homes does not mean there are not more people being laid off in timber mills and in housing construction. There are probably zero doctors being laid off. Some sectors are doing fine, others not. I’m personally making more much money than I made last year.

          “There is not a single indicator I can think of that is better now than a few months ago. Well, maybe the rate of job loss has slowed for a short period.”

          According to the Conference Board, 7 out of 10 leading indicators have improved each of the last 2 months. Stock prices, interest rate spread, consumer confidence, weekly unemployment clams, manufacturing hours, index of supplier deliveries, and wholesale orders for durable goods. So looks like you just need to think harder Rupert.

          “Yawn – Lets just have your prediction ok?”

          I don’t have a prediction on global warming. I go with the IPCC range because they are smarter than I am on this issue. 2-11 degrees F by the end of this century is the modeling range.

          On unemployment, i also don’t have a prediction. But if the economic recovery that has just begun continues, I expect it will continue to rise through most of this year, peak around December, and then begin a slow decline. But if you only want accuracy within 2%, I’d say this time next year the national rate will be 8.5%, plus or minus 2% and will bet you a pint on that.

          “The physics of a science can be affected by human behaviour?”

          I used shorthand. The physics are what they are. What is affected by us is the amount of heat trapping gasses that accumulate in the atmosphere, which in turn affects climate.

          “At any rate, *we* are left with the question. Does human behaviour affect the climate in a non negligible manner? ”

          Correction. That is a question *you* are left with, not me. I’m convinced the answer is yes it does at a 95% level of certainty (not coincidentaly the same as the IPCC).

          “I say if unemployment in Oregon does not drop quite soon from these new jobs that were promised, then we will know the value of these scientists more grand predictions! ”

          The problem with your approach is that the scientists calculating the climate and the economists and politicians advocating green jobs are different people altogether. So linking the failure of one to the calculations of the other makes little sense. It says more about your limitations than about theirs.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >Correction. That is a question you are left with, not me. I’m convinced the answer is yes it does at a 95% level of certainty (not coincidentaly the same as the IPCC).

            Well, you can spout that nonsense until you are blue in the face. Its simply not true.

            The models do not fall within that range, if you take in volcanic activity they are well outside that range when backwards predicting. and I heard that straight from the lips of an IPCC member in a face to face meeting. I thought I had misunderstood, so I even asked him later in the Q/A section. He confirmed it again.

            Look, the bottom line is, I don’t blame you for supported the AGW belief. It is in your own interest as I understand you make a lot of money off the windmill thing. I just simply wish guys like you running a nice little scam could get rich without hurting the rest of us who don’t want to partake. In that regard, street corner hustlers tend to have more integrity than the average environmentalist.

            At any rate – Looks like you a lot of Tarot cards to me. No prediction on unemployment, but we can predict the weather and can predict mans influence on it.

            Oh, but only a hundred years out.

            And you guys wonder why enthusiasm for this sort of thing is falling. Funny stuff Dean, funny stuff.

            >It says more about your limitations than about theirs.

            No, it says I am able to take two political issues – enviromentalism and jobs – and point out the fact that since they cant predict the one, why should we listen to them on the other?

            I think where you are making your mistake is assuming enviromentalism is not a political movement. This is understandable, enviromentalists shroud themselves in science. I gullable few fall for it and lets face it, you make a buck off it.

            Nice way to make a living, but for those of us doing something a little more constructive than trying to leech off everyone else, please don’t flatter yourself.

          • happy to help

            Its funny how you managed to shift into a personal attack without even knowing who the person you are atacking is. I guess that means you lost the argument on its merits.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            Sorry, you need to read your own writing, you shifted it long before I did. Here is an example:

            “So linking the failure of one to the calculations of the other makes little sense. It says more about your limitations than about theirs. ”

            I think your argument is a little weak when you try insulting someone, and then get all whiney when you get back in kind. You have a problem taking personal attacks? Fine, don’t start them.

            Oh – And please, do not try and come back at me with a “gee, I didn’t mean it as an attack, sorry you took it that way thing”. The teenage routine doesn’t cut a lot of ice with me.

            Better luck next time. Hopefully you will have something a little better thought out. I tend to doubt it though if this is any indication.

          • happy to help

            If you want to take that as a personal attack or insult, its no skin off my nose.

            I can see why you changed the subject after I pointed out there are 7 economic indicators that are improving, not just one, as you claimed. You neither acknowledged nor refuted that, and then decided to assume an identiy for me and launch your attack on the person you think I am, and the work you think I do. You shouldn’t expect it to pass without notice.

  • Anon R

    Moonbeam? This must be Satire correct?

    So some want the Government/Big brother to “stop the bullying”.

    George Washington, Sam Adams, Davy Crokett, John Wayne, Gen. Patton and many other real Men, if they were alive, would be astonished at how weak and pathetic some of us have become!

    Well between that and more Flouride in the water, YOU will all be cradle to grave government sheeple soon.

    What does not Kill me makes me stronger.

    Pain is fear leaving the body.

    Jason Atkinson, A wimp with an R next to his name, please quit your claimed “public service” soon, put that skin tight latex bike riding costume on and spend your p.e.r.s. time preventing “climate change”. Your Dad is embarrased of you.

    • Grim Reaper

      Are you his dad, Rick?

      Do us all a favor. Put a gun to your head and fire. No one cares about you. I hope someone kills you.

  • Jessie

    I am saddened that so many of you think I was a bad mom to name my son Moonbeam. I was trying to celebrate our solar system and he was born under a full moon, so it only seemed right at the time.
    This is why we need a senate to create laws against bullying – so many people are intolerant of others’ choices.
    I am proud of his name and proud of my decision to give it to him. Maybe when he gets older the teasing will stop. If the US can elect a black man who most likely is Muslim as president, then surely they can accept my son and his unique moniker.

    • eagle eye

      “Electing a man who most likely is Muslim”, if that’s what happened, does not strike me as good judgment on the part of the American people.

      I feel bad for your son, but I’m not surprised at what’s happening if you really did name him Moonbeam.

      I still think “Moondog” is not a bad name. I wouldn’t mind being called that myself. At least, I’ve been called worse at one or two points in my life. And no, I’m not talking about “ee”.

  • Jessie

    Well, I guess we could let him change it if he wants.
    Maybe that is the best solution.
    Thanks for your support.

    • eagle eye

      The trouble with legislating niceness is that it’s very hard to make it work.

      “Moondog” is not so far from Moonbeam and if that would stop the taunting, it might be best to accept that.

      When the kids get older they will probably stop and go on to some other form of human meanness, as so many of us do, alas. When your son is an adult, he can decide for himself if his given name is a problem or not. I wish you the best.

  • Jessie

    Trouble. I asked him if he wanted to change his name and he said yes! He wants to change it to Barack Hussein in honor of our new commander in chief. I am not sure if that will stop the teasing.

    I guess we should have named him Plutonium as originally planned. He is such a rare child we thought that name would be a tribute to his uniqueness. And now that Pluto has been unnamed as a planet, it would have been a tribute to that small, circling orb that no longer is considered big enough to be a planet.

    Kids these days.

    • eagle eye

      Enough of the pretend satire. Try something at which you have some talent.

  • Jessie

    Ok, Ok. Enough is enough. You are right.
    Moonbeam it is and Moonbeam it will stay as long as he in under our roof!

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