Taxing The Rich Is A Loser’s Game


Several weeks ago I noted that even if voters approved the massive $735 Million tax increases in Measures 66 and 67, it would not be enough for the insatiable appetite of Oregon’s public employee unions and the state Democrats who are beholden to these unions for their funding, organizing and advocacy. And sure enough the newest General Fund Revenue Forecast released Monday proves the point.

At the close of the 2009 legislative session, the legislature adopted a budget based on a tax revenue forecast of $13.575 Billion (including the tax increases in Measures 66 and 67). That budget included a projected $233.8 Million surplus which would serve as a contingency if anticipated funds fell short. By September of 2009 the revenue forecast had fallen to $13.436 Billion and the “surplus” had dissipated to $94.8 Million. In December there was a further erosion as the revenue forecast fell to $13.393 Billion and the “surplus” shrank to $79.2 Million. (All of these figures can be found on the Office of Economic Analysis website.)

But the newest forecast trumps the previous three forecasts as a sign of a more rapid decay in Oregon’s economy then previously disclosed. The current forecast is $13,210 Billion. The entire $233.8 Million surplus has disappeared and the current budget is now $100 Million underwater.

And that is not the worst of it. The revenue forecasting methodology utilized by the state assumes revenue growth from any given point in time. When actual revenue collections fail to meet the last projection, the projection doesn’t turn downward, rather the “start point” is reduced and the same growth curve is applied to the lowered base. Given that Oregon’s revenue forecast has failed to meet projections for at least six quarters one would think that a forecast based upon “continued growth” in revenue would be suspect. Given the state’s constitutional requirement that the legislature balance the budget, the current “special session” will have to either cut spending by $100 Million or raise taxes by year another $100 million.

Despite the “growth model” used by the OEA, it is more likely than not that the next forecast, due in May, will show lower, not higher revenues. While not exactly forecasting that decline, the OEA certainly highlights the possibility. In its report under the title of Forecast Risks, the analysts note:

“Increased Volatility. With the passage of Measure 66, the state has increased the volatility of its personal income tax revenue stream. In past years, the relatively small number of taxpayers impacted by the measure — two to three percent — regularly accounted for two-thirds of the change in tax revenues from one year to the next. By increasing the dependence on this small group, relatively small changes in the economy can yield large changes in income tax collections. Essentially, the state can expect to experience greater positive revenue changes in good years and greater losses in revenue in bad years relative to the past.”

That is a mild suggestion given the fact that Measures 66 and 67 just removed $735 Million in potential capital investment from Oregon’s economy and prompted outrage from Oregon’s business community — not just a few of whom have threatened to either pull out or redirect growth to other states.

With the state budget now underwater by $100 Million, the legislature has the constitutional obligation to rebalance the budget. Given the likelihood of a further decline in the revenue forecast, the legislature would be wise to build in a $250 Million “surplus” thus putting the shortfall at $350 Million. Now the legislature can either reduce spending by $350 Million or increases taxes by another $350 Million.

Given the control exercised by Oregon’s public employees unions over the governor and the Democrats in the legislature, which option do you think they will pursue? The unfortunate thing is that given Gov. Kulongoski’s economic illiteracy, it is doubtful that anyone can see the sure signs of the downward spiral that accompanies the continuing increase in tax rates and the resulting decrease in tax revenue collections.

You can only “tax the rich” so much and then they will just get up and leave.

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  • Ron

    Larry,

    The recent passage of measure 66 says 54% of Oregonians think taxing the rich (?) is a great idea. With that margin of voter approval, you can bet the legislature will come back for more. While they’re at it, maybe they’ll drop the bar defining rich by another 10-20%.

    The blue cabal in Salem can be very clever when it comes to dipping into your pocket. Don’t underestimate those folks.

    • Anonymous

      They, “the blue cabal in Salem” will not be able to dip into my pocket that closes up a couple of businesses and moves.
      While I never “underestimate those folks” they should never “underestimate those folks” that worked hard to attain their own level of wealth and prosperity.
      Those folks, yours truly included, will use all of their resources to give a collective FU and addios to the “blue cabal”. Take that to the bank.

      • Ron

        Anon,

        If you and enough (?) others like you do bail, maybe what we’ve been trying to tell Salem will finally sink in. I personally think we’ll be where California is before it dawns on them something is amiss.

        Good luck whichever way you decide to go.

      • Anonymous

        Good Luck Anon 1.1,

        I wish you well. I’m sure others will follow you.

        I’m looking at Texas, Idaho and Nevada right now. With the same level of income I can reduce my tax liability 15% to 25%. More than enough to pay for the move.

        • sybella

          I’m looking to dump it.

  • dartagnan

    “You can only “tax the rich” so much and then they will just get up and leave.”

    I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: Let me know when all these businesses start leaving. I won’t be holding my breath.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      You’ve said it before and you have heard it before. Freightliner left for SC when the state came after them for punitive damages in a case that was settled out of court. Daley was successful in luring Boeing HQ from Seattle to Chicago with lower taxes.

      Business moves all the time when the state comes after them for more money. The fact that you keep yourself unaware of this does not mean it doesn’t happen.

    • Not Your Pal

      We LEFT ALREADY Mr. Know-It-All. We saw this coming and moved to Nevada in November. No it’s not perfect here, but at least we will be saving about $14,000.00 in local and State Income Taxes in 2010. By the way, our water, sewer and trash bills are less than 50% of what we paid in the Portland area for the same services. And vehicle licenses cost us a fraction of what we paid those thieves at Oregon DEQ!

      • Anonymous

        And I’m sure someone will be taking your place shortly (if someone hasn’t already). That’s how marketplaces work. Having lived in Nevada I can tell without hesitation that I prefer life in the Pacific Northwest immeasurably. What are your property taxes like down there? How about that sales tax? How much of that 14k is left after accounting for those expenses? Regardless, best of luck to you and your family.

  • Mike M

    More to the point, one of the Measure 66/67 messages advocating YES was that the rich and businesses need to pay their fair share.

    Since the measure passed, isn’t this group now paying their fair share?

    Or do they need to now pay a fairer share?

    One things for sure, the tax rate can never exceed 100%. . .

    • Anonymous

      The question to ask each person you run into that advocated/voted Yes on 66/67;

      Do you feel better, are you better off today, and can you tell us where the spoils of 66/67 are right now? (Of course they cannot)

  • retired UO science prof

    This shows what happens when an organization — in this case the state of Oregon — is too improvident to prepare for bad times, like now.

    The same people who bellow about the kicker surpluses — “it’s our money, they overcharged us” — never say, in times like this, “they undercharged us — the state needs our money, let’s do our part”.

    So, the state has continuing shortfalls — go ahead and cut services, the way a business cuts output when business goes bad.

    I know, the Republicans have their fantasy plan to have the services and eat the cake too. Go ahead and push that for all it’s worth.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      >never say, in times like this, “they undercharged us — the state needs our money, let’s do our part”.

      Well, this is because of the universal truth that politically while some may be liberal and some may be conservative, in life everyone is a conservative in the feild of their own endevor.

      If you do not beleive this is true, then I invite you to disprove me. If you have not done your taxes yet this year then you should do your part and send in more than the minimum payment due. Simply take less deductions, or if you do not itemize, simply claim cash income and pay above and beyond what you otherwise would owe.

      I have never met a liberal who actually acted on this. Every one I ever met takes every deduction they can get their hands on and if they don’t its because they are scared of an audit, not because they want to “do their part” and pay higher taxes.

      >I know, the Republicans have their fantasy plan to have the services and eat the cake too.

      That is hardly what the Republicans proposed. In general Republican plans have simply proposed limiting the rate of growth in government to levels that are sustainable. All this was pretty well outlined last summer. Sorry you missed it.

      • Anonymous

        Nah, I never pay a dime more than I have to. But then I don’t claim I’ve been “overcharged” when revenues come in over some state economist’s 2-year projection! That is one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever heard of. Anymore than I claim I’ve been “undercharged” when projections fall short. I pay at the legal tax rates, period. But I have enough sense to recognize that prudent organizations plan for contingencies.

    • Steve Plunk

      Ah, the old reductio ad absurdum. Falsely characterizing Republicans as wanting services but not wanting to pay for them is truly reducing the argument to absurd levels. Republicans want efficiency in government, limits on what services are deemed necessary, and overall fiscal responsibility. Is that so hard to accept?

      The government under Democratic leadership has pushed spending well above inflation and population growth to levels that are clearly unsustainable. The result of such foolish spending is a need to impose taxes above what many consider a reasonable or fair level. These high taxes will impede economic growth and therefore slow the growth of future tax revenues. Businesses may not be leaving in droves but they are sure postponing any expansion.

      Republicans also argue any service cuts should come in the places seldom mentioned. It’s funny we always see schools and public safety on the chopping block first. That tells me we are being played by the government. This extortion should not be tolerated.

      Until PERS is reformed we will never see the end of these fiscal crisis. PERS has been a known problem for more than 20 years. The inexcusable failure to act by the legislature has handicapped for many years to come. Before anyone in this state accuses me of not paying my fair share or not caring about my fellow citizens I would point to those PERS recipients who are bankrupting the state without any guilty feelings what so ever.

      • retired UO science prof

        OK, go for efficiency in government. I hear they have a great school year down there in Central Point. There must be a lot of fat to cut. When the legislature cuts your school budget, deal with it.

        • Steve Plunk

          PERS increases will have a bigger effect on the coming school budgets. I’m in the Medford school district by the way. Like I said why must K-12 be the first thing liberals wants to cut?

          I would suggest looking at University budgets right off the bat. Increases in the number of unneeded administrators has pushed costs up with little to show in return. Fat cat professors teaching minimal classes while writing books on the side are costing us as well. I’ll never forgive my U of O science prof who made us buy his book for our class. What a racket. I’ll think I’ll call it the Tweed Mafia.

          • r UO sp

            OK, cut higher ed, even though Oregon is near the bottom for 4 year colleges. They’ll raise your son’s tuition at SOU. Will that make you happy? Then send the boy to a private college, if you think you can get a better deal.

            You poor guy, you had a UO prof who actually went to the trouble to write a book for you. With very few exceptions, that kind of work pays very little. Like below minimum wage. If you were really that unhappy, you should have gone to SOU. Or a private college.

            UO gets so little money from the state, it would almost be better off being cut loose. Then you guys would have nothing even to imagine complaining about. Don’t like what they offer? Go someplace else.

          • Steve Plunk

            That professor didn’t write the book for me he wrote it to fatten his own bank account and stay in good graces with the University. Don’t you think it unethical to make his students buy his book? Regardless of your ethical opinions I will forever remember professors as being arrogant bullies who love to lord over young people. My opinion hasn’t changed over the years.

            The solution to higher ed’s funding problem is to cut the crap. Student fees to support organizations they have no interest in make no sense. There are too many administrators. The salaries are too high as evidenced by the number of applicants for each job opening. Professors don’t teach enough and administrators treat them like spoiled children. The university system is an old tired model of education that rewards those at the top at the expense of everyone else.

          • r UO sp

            Yeah, but you send your kid to SOU. Why not Rogue Valley CC or truck driving school if you don’t like the university model? Meanwhile, business is up at UO and the other campuses, 10% in the last bienn. Despite sharp “price” increases. Somebody wants what they offer. If you don’t, stop whining and get out. How is your business doing by comparison?

          • Steve Plunk

            With your logical skills I find it hard to believe you ever taught. Just because a person advocates for changes doesn’t mean they must turn their back on an imperfect system. Your arrogance is blinding you to the real world. That same arrogance has you calling it whining when someone points out the shortcomings. You can do better.

          • retired UO science prof

            The point is, if universities are such a ripoff, go to a no non-university. If public colleges are such a ripoff, go to a private college. (And Oregon public universities are practically privately funded anyway). Your actions belie your words. Methinks you are a big whiner. And a phony.

          • retired UO science prof

            The point is, if universities are such a ripoff, go to a non non-university. If public colleges are such a ripoff, go to a private college. (And Oregon public universities are practically privately funded anyway). Your actions belie your words. Methinks you are a big whiner. And a phony.

          • dartagnan

            “The salaries are too high as evidenced by the number of applicants for each job opening.”

            Republican “logic” at its finest.

            Maybe we should cut salaries to the point where NOBODY applies for any faculty positions. Yeah, that’s the ticket to educational greatness.

          • retired UO science prof

            Right. There are a lot of applicants for Mike Bellotti’s old job too. For the job of Senator, too. I might apply for the Trail Blazers, they could have me cheap.

            The irony is that UO salaries are very low compared to the national faculty market. A lot of the top people no longer bother to apply, and more often than not they don’t get their top candidate. Ditto with OSU. That’s why outside people laugh at talk, like a few years ago, of a “Top tier engineering program” in Oregon. They know support for higher education is a joke here.

    • Anonymous

      I’ll bet that you and Joe Rodriquez “eat cake”, IOWKA, PERS cake together.

      Joe and his wifey are probably bringing in around 200K in PERS largess so I’d guess a retired UO science prof would be comparable. If not, your beef is with PERS not us Republicans living in “fantasy land”, working past age 65, so we can sustain your G-Damned retirement.

      • retired UO science prof

        I wish my pension was $200 K. You’re hallucinating?

        You didn’t want them to offer me a retirement plan to move here? Then your state shouldn’t have made the offer. Don’t like it? Then move, or stuff it.

    • Anonymous

      You have obviously never been in business.

      • r UO sp

        who, me? Actually, I have. I know that successful businessmen aren’t like the bitter, whiney people here.

  • PF

    Here is an idea for Salem, perhaps they can pass a law that states Public Employees may no longer take any tax deductions. They must now just file the easy forms with no write offs. Then we will see who screams like a stuck pig.

    • Anonymous

      I am not a public employee and I would scream like a stuck pig. No deductions for student loan and mortgage interest? Ummmm… no. I’m going to go ahead and call that anti-American.

      • PF

        hey…what do you think 67 was about? Pay your taxes on GROSS income, come on. According to the unions, it is damn unAmerican not to support that. Fair is only fair now…

        • PF

          What do you mean UO? I thought is was the vogue thing to make taxes retro active, and hey, taxes people on gross receipts, rather then their net income is cool now too. WHY don’t the union members want to pony up their fair share? Kind of sounds hypocritical if you ask me.

        • Anonymous

          I voted NO on M67 for that very reason. Aside from it being bad policy from a purely economic point of view, it is ruthless in its unfairness from an ethical perspective. But unfairness is one thing, illegal is another. If a referendum were introduced that was designed to prevent public employees from making tax deductions… well, it wouldn’t be. It would never make it past the courts.

          • PF

            One would think that the public employees would just do it for the children. You know…like they demand of everyone else.

          • Anonymous

            Okay, you’re obviously just taking the piss… I was disappointed with 67’s passing, but I’m sure glad I’m not as bitter as you are about it.

          • PF

            bitter, sure. YOU write the check and then we will talk BITTER. I have, well had, a couple of bitter employees too. It is all fine and good, until it happens to you. With the way the legisature in Salem is acting, that will not be far off.

          • Anonymous

            Um, yeah, my tax bill was affected. Good assumption though, PF. I guess those employees you let go were just deadweight anyway, if their contribution to/presence within your company didn’t generate enough revenue to offset the tax increase.

            And, no, I will never be as bitter as you or many of the other individuals who post here regularly. Call it a spiritual decision. What you fail to realize is that many people sincerely love living in Oregon. If their comes a time when I can no longer afford to live here I will simply move, regretfully, and will continue to tell everyone I meet how much I love Oregon.

          • PF

            My employees were not dead weight. Why would you ASSUME that? Where to get the money to pay them and my RETOACTIVE tax bill, in an economy where the customer base is shrinking daily…oh I don’t know. I don’t have a magic tree in the back that grows money. My business either survives or everyone is without a job. Get that, tough decisions need to be made.

            I was born in Oregon and have watched for years people moving into this state with the idea it needs to change. People in Oregon used to be self sufficient, now the majority seems to want to jump in the bucket and let everyone else pay. The day after those measures passed UNION bigs were out saying, well, nice band aid, but we need more. Really, blood from which turnip now? Perhaps the LLC and S corps next? Then who…think about it.

            This mess with Oregon is not going to change until the LEGISLATURE actually does the job they were put there to do. Until that one trick pony learns that there are other ways to generate revenue besides raising taxes…maybe we will make it. However, that will not ever happen if people keep trying to vote in their own benefits and live in a bucket consuming and never contributing.

          • PF

            Oh, and cardboard has already gone up 70$ a ton. Now that effects everyone. Every single thing you buy shows up to the store in a box…..

            The indirect costs are regressive taxes on the poor. So, those measure might say, they only get the rich, however, everyone now will pay more. This is just one example.

          • Anonymous

            Lady, you’re full of it. First of all and for the second time, I voted NO on M67. I think it sucks. I think it’s unfair. I think it’s bad for business. But if you think I’m going to believe that it is costing you the salaries or wages of two employees, then you are out of your mind. If your company generated $5,000,000 in 2009 with a 10% margin your tax bill would increase by less than $12,000 as a result of M67. The majority of that amount would be derived from profit, mind you. I’m willing to bet your business is nowhere near that size (i.e. your tax bill is substantially smaller than the one in my example), but even if it is that is hardly cause to cut two productive employees loose. Sounds to me like you’re using M67 as a scapegoat for your own shortcomings as an administrator, business strategist, cash manager, financial planner, or whatever. Ever heard of a small business loan? How about estimated tax payments? If your employees were so valuable won’t you be losing revenue by laying them off?

            Maybe this will help:

            http://www.oregon.gov/DOR/BUS/faq-corp.shtml

            Seriously, save your “tough decisions have to be made” speech for the retards at the tea party protests.

          • PF

            get a loan to make payroll? insane, unless you can bet it is temporary. Who knows what this economy will bring. Between, Salem and DC. Cap and Trade? Would you take out a loan no knowing WHAT is coming down the road? Stupid if you did. Cutting expenses is best. Frankly it was not just 67, but also the recession we are in…you know we are in a recession.

            I am glad you voted no on 67, sorry you are getting the impression I am somehow blaming you. NO, I am blaming the LAZIEST LEGISLATURE IN THE WORLD. Oh, and the voters that allowed them to do nothing, but kick the can down the road.

            THOSE MEASURES DID NOTHING to solve the funding problem. Even the UNION bigs said that the next day.

            These measures hurt business. Perhaps you should start one, get a loan like you advise, and check it out for yourself.

          • Anonymous

            PF, with all due respect, yes, a small short-term loan to make payroll, if you really care about your employees well-being. If you want to talk about tough decisions, these are the tough decisions. We are all betting this recession is temporary. Private sector, public sector, business owners, white collar, blue collar, college students, and on and on and on. The best thing all of us can do in a recession is to maintain as much productivity as possible, not simply batten down the hatches and hope to survive. The idea is to keep people working, to keep money moving. Will many businesses be operating at a loss? No doubt. But the most important thing is to keep people employed, to keep money in their pockets, so they can keep spending the money that keeps other people employed.

          • PF

            Duh. Short term loans are fine, however, I am not doing it. Tell me…what is congress going to pull next? Cap and Trade, Health care, raise taxes on middle class (obama said he was open to that today) What?

            Then we have Oregon, who are they going after next? MMMM…

            Nope not this time anon, times are too uncertain.

            like I said. Go get that loan, and create some jobs…great idea. Just do it, yourself. I am hunkering down and riding the storm.

          • Anonymous

            “Nope not this time anon, times are too uncertain.”

            You keep telling yourself that, PF. Might as well go into full panic mode, pull your money from the bank and bury it in the back yard. You never can be too safe. But seriously, I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just reminding you that there is a relationship between risk and reward. Furthermore, if you want to be regarded as a civic minded individual (and not thought of as a neurotic, bitter, self-interested scrooge) you might reconsider your leadership style. Explain to me again how firing two productive employees is saving you money? As long as your revenue exceeds your variable costs you’re best to keep your doors open. If you can’t swing the fixed costs you shouldn’t be in business at all.

            BTW, you should hope Obama raises taxes on the middle class (he won’t), because if he does he won’t stand a chance in 2012.

            And lastly, I’m very comfortable with my contribution to the local economy, but thank you for the suggestion.

    • retired UO science prof

      More of the crackpot, illegal ideas that keep getting Oregon deeper in the mud!

  • Swannee

    Rich people have all the money, so we have to tax them more. It is not fair that a rich person pays the same for a loaf of bread as a poor person.
    It is just not fair.

    Plus, retired U of O profs are not rich by any means, although they do feed at the trough on a regular basis.
    Of course they would want more of the kicker money to keep their fat cat retirement checks coming forever.

    How sad Oregon has become.

    It is only a matter of time before Nike leaves. Mark my words on this one people. Just do it.

    • retired UO science prof

      Feed on the trough? If you mean I had a pension plan when I moved to the University of Oregon, yeah. I would have been an idiot not to. They offered me a deal, I took it. That makes me a trough feeder?

      And am I “not rich by any means”, or a fat cat?

      Actually, very little of my pension actually was paid for by Oregon tax money, the vast majority came from tuition and other funds. It would be nice if there was no state support, then we could tell you knuckledraggers where to get off.

      If you’re so unhappy with having a state university like UO, then get rid of it. And good riddance to you.

      • Steve Plunk

        So we see what the retired prof thinks of the citizens of Oregon. Knuckledraggers? It’s no wonder the reputation of these ivory tower types is sinking fast. I suppose they are too used to bullying pimple faced freshman so push back hurts their feelings. It’s no more logical to defend bloated, unsustainable pensions than it is to defend shady business practices. Nobody made them sign the papers or buy a product they didn’t need. It was all voluntary they say. I say it’s all greed. In my business we agree upon a price and make a deal, no hidden costs or higher fees later. Public employees colluded with other public employees to create retirement packages that have now come back to bite us. Too bad the citizen-taxpayers didn’t have someone negotiating for their interests.

        This knuckledragger better work harder to keep those public employees retirement checks rolling in.

        • r UO sp

          Yeah, when I post a comment, and someone starts off with the ‘feeding at the trough’ routine — because I get the pension I contracted for — I get annoyed. Yeah, there are knuckledraggers here.

          Did they sweeten the pension too much after I had signed the contract? Maybe. But it’s not my fault, I had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with it. You blame me because you people are incompetent?

          Actually, I’ll be paying high income taxes to pay for you bunglers. Maybe I should move to Washington, like all you guys threaten to do. And let you pay for your mess yourselves.

          • Steve Plunk

            No professor, I don’t blame you but I see you as just another part of the problem. I didn’t bungle the negotiations my government did and now I want to see my government take responsibility for it. I would like those who benefited to quit calling the rest of us greedy when their greed is obvious. I see growing discontent and resentment for those who gamed the system and now don’t want to pay their “fair share”.

          • Mike M

            r UO s p wrote:
            “It’s not my fault”

            While I agree that you are entitled to the pension you were promised when you signed on at UO, did you have any concern when Oregon promised an 8% min guaranteed increase. If you agree that this kind of guarantee is not sustainable, why aren’t you and other PERS recipients camping out in Salem with new agreements in hand to help Oregon renegotiate contracts?

            I don’t see any PERS recipients offering to renegotiate unsustainable future benefit increases.

            That is surely “your fault”

          • retired UO science prof

            Since you are one of the few not to give an abusive reply, though you kind of skirted it, I’ll try to give you a cogent response in return.

            No, I’m not camping out in Salem trying to renegotiate my pension. Why should I? That’s not my job. Let those in charge deal with it. I’m not sure what they can do, any more than I can renegotiate the salary they paid me. Go camp out in Salem yourself . If you think I’m going to donate part of my pension to the state, forget it.

            In fact, I have pointed out elsewhere realistic things that might be done to alleviate the PERS situation. See (2) and (3) below. But first:

            1) I’ll tell you why I don’t feel especially bad about what I’m getting, even if it was enhanced from the deal I agreed to when I came here.

            When I was being recruited, the 6% “pickup” contribution to PERS was very much part of the deal. I was told it was basically in lieu of salary, and pretty much “hard-wired” into law – and in fact where I worked before I had to pay about 6% myself. So although I was somewhat shocked when the salary they offered was actually lower than what I was already going, I took into account the 6%, the somewhat better medical benefits, and even though the whole package was kind of lowball, I took it.

            But then there was a ballot intiative to cancel the 6%, back in the mid-90’s. It passed, barely. My attitude, which I think was perfectly reasonable, was that the Oregonians were trying to screw me and the other state workers. It got overturned in the courts. But after that, I took a pretty hardboiled attitude about pay, benefits, pension. I certainly didn’t trust Oregon anymore. If the Oregonians screwed themselves later with PERS, I’m not going to worry about it too much. (Except as a taxpayer, as long as I stay here).

            2) As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, I actually dropped out of PERS in about 1997, when faculty members were given that option. Basically, after that my pension payments all went into a separate private pension plan. The payments were good in some of those years, because of the PERS fiasco. But after I retired, the state had no obligations to me (except for the years when I was in PERS, which in fact was only a small fraction of my career. My PERS account is still there, paying a piece of my pension.)

            The point is (a) that this is a practical step the state could offer to all PERS members and (b) this somewhat relieved the state of financial obligations.

            3) The last thing is that it was made very clear to those of us at UO who were non-union – basically, the faculty and professional staff – that our salary increases were being limited to pay for the extra pension costs. It’s called total compensation. Since the salaries they pay are notoriously low on the national market, and the total compensation level is also low, I don’t feel bad, not at all, about the package I got, including the years of the PERS fiasco.

            So complain all you want, I don’t care. I posted a recent Oregonian article with suggestions that might actually help out with PERS, e.g. things likea kind of pension buyout like (2) above or total compensation levels in salary negotiations like (3). As far as I can tell, nobody else here has come up with anything realistic, there’s just a lot of bitching and hot air and abusive talk toward public employees. It doesn’t get you anywhere; see the M66 67 results.

          • a UO student not retired!

            Sounds reasonable, prof. Did I have you for class last year? Anyhow, most of us students who are alert know you’re underpaid at UO. Don’t worry too much about a few complainers. I know some students like that. One guy with a good scholarship, all he does is complain about UO. I ask him why he doesn’t go somewhere else. Most of us think it’s a good bargain for the money. The Honors College sure beats paying $40,000 to go to Reed.

            Do I see you still hanging out in the science complex? Whatever, enjoy your retirement.

          • retired UO science prof

            Taught my last class last academic year, don’t want to be more specific than that. Yes, I still have a research program going part-time. In fact, the state “cut” from my grant is more than I get from PERS! lol! By the way, not double-dipping, the grant all goes for other people and equipment. The students like you make it worth our while. Good luck! My “retirement” is great, thanks!

          • Melvin

            I would not want to be more specific if I were you, either.

          • r UO sp

            You bet. I know from experience it’s good to avoid cranks.

      • Ron

        Professor,

        I’m sure you realize many of us “knuckle draggers” in the private sector are either out of work or working reduced hours and probably with frozen or reduced wages. Those of us like myself, retired from our professional lives and working to supplement our pensions (no COLA), have a hard time having any sympathy for anybody drinking from the trough.

        The fact that any part of your pension is coming out of our pockets is hard to stomach, especially in the current economical environment. Expect the vitriole to continue until the private sector feels what they are contributing to public sector compensation is a fair deal.

        The recent passage of measures 66 & 67 are not helping the public sector’s side. Repeal of the kickers, a distinct possibility, will only further sour the mood in the private sector.

        • r UO sp

          Ah, you don’t like when I don’t take to being called a ‘trough feeder’ because I got the pension I contracted for? Well tough for you. And I don’t feel sorry for your so-called plight. It’s not my fault you were too lazy or too incompetent to provide for yourself. You’re dripping with envy of anyone who was providential enough to have a pension. In fact, not much different from the envy of the well-off of the Oregon voters you hate so much.

          If you want to have a pension like mine, do what I did, and see how you do at it.

          So there’s a sour mood out there? It seems to me it’s mostly on the side of the people who can’t win elections. You got creamed on the recent tax votes. You are the ones who are doing best at alienating people.

          • Steve Plunk

            Calling people “knuckledraggers” exposes your sour mood professor. If anyone should not be sour it would be those collecting bloated pensions while society suffers a slow fiscal collapse. Of course the government class doesn’t see it that way.

      • Swanee

        Sorry “Professor”. I guess you worked REALLY hard for all you have and you deserve it all and maybe even more! However, you are feeding at the trough – plain and simple. And a lot of tax dollars end up in PERS with districts’ contributions.
        Who cares, really, where the money came from. You need it and we will give it to you.
        Remember, libs and dems and professors are all alike. They take money from people who work and give it to people who don’t. Sort of like how you are not working now, yet taking OUR money each and every month.
        No wonder you resorted to name calling. You know you are guilty so you react the only way you can – slurring our ancestors in the process.
        If only I could be so smart.
        So very, very smart.

        • retired UO science prof

          Pathetic. I suppose next you’ll want me to repay my salary. Sorry. Tough!

          If your state didn’t want my services, you shouldn’t have recruited me to your state university.

          If the students didn’t want my services — which come with a pension plan, because I am not an idiot — they shouldn’t have gone to their state university.

  • valley p

    Larry Huss writes: “That is a mild suggestion given the fact that Measures 66 and 67 just removed $735 Million in potential capital investment from Oregon’s economy and prompted outrage from Oregon’s business community – not just a few of whom have threatened to either pull out or redirect growth to other states.

    Let’s parse this. Did we just “remove” $735 million in potential capital investment? No way. Not all of that would have been invested, and certainly not all of it would have been invested in Oregon. Since the money was not “removed,” but will be redistributed to others who produce services, those on the receiving end will spend most of that money within the state, thus boosting other businesses, and they will save some, which will be re-invested. So how much was “removed?” Zero. The money will be here circulating, just out of different hands.

    Is the Oregon business community “outraged?” Some perhaps. Many others not. Business owners were on both sides of the debate and likely voted on both sides.

    Will some decide to “pull out?” Perhaps. But Oregon still ranks 14th best in the nation for business in terms of total tax burden. And 70-80% of Oregon businesses are retail or service oriented to within state business. Therefore, if they move out someone else moves in or expands into the niche they left behind. Its called capitalism.

    Now….if Larry Huss decides to move out….I can live with that.

    Rupert wrote: ” Freightliner left for SC….”

    Yes they did, at least part of them. And SC is rated 26th in the nation for business friendly taxes, way behind Oregon. And the unemployment rate in SC is worse than Oregon’s. What do they get in SC? Cheaper labor and a right to work state. Bully for them.

    • Sid

      I am glad Freightliner moved. They make evil, big trucks that are not electric. Who needs them? They are making our earth warmer, too, with their evil discharges. I say good riddance.

      • anonymous

        Sid, do you shop in grocery stores? Dumb question you ask? Most goods get there by TRUCK.

        • Sid

          But those trucks should be electric – not the kind like they have now making Mother Earth so very, very warm.
          I hate these capitalist pigs.
          We must save our earth and save it now.
          AlGore says we only have a few months left.

  • eagle eye

    retired prof — It’s ironic, it seems to me, that you have suggested practical (instead of illegal or ruinous) measures to rein in PERS. You are about the only one here.

    Did you mention once that you had opted,when given the choice, to remove yourself from the PERS pension plan?

    Amusing hornet’s nest here!

    • retired UO science prof

      See 6.1.1.1.2.1 above.

      • eagle eye

        Detailed, reasonable account. You sound fairly moderate to me. Are you politically affiliated or motivated? If you don’t mind my asking.

        • retired UO science prof

          Was a registered Republican, moderate. One of a few at UO. Until after the 2008 election. Found myself more often not voting in state elections e.g Governor and U.S. Congress in 2008. Voted for McCain, barely. Couldn’t stand Palin. I realized I no longer wanted to be associated even symbolically.

          Real deal breaker though was Ron Saxton. His crack about firing all the state employees turned me off and a lot of others, I can tell you. No wonder he lost. If this is the Republicans, screw them, I thought. I re-registered as Independent. I have little liking for either party or their policies. Maybe some day someone will have something to offer. They all seem like buffoons out for themselves. I’ll pass.

          A very few seem to have reasonable, honest ideas that they’re willing to put forward. Very few.

          • Mort

            Is this about right for a professor’s work schedule at U of O?

            8:00 AM – get up, shower, shave, have breakfast, read the NYT, etc.
            9:00 AM – show up for office hours – 9 – 10 Tuesday and Thursday only
            11:00 AM – class for one hour three days EVERY week for 10 whole weeks
            12:00 – 2:00 PM – lunch with fellow professors – vital discussions – mind opening thoughts shared
            2:00 PM – direct grad student on how to grade my papers
            3:00 PM – home James!

            Repeat as needed Monday through Friday EXCEPT for MLK Day, President’s Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Christmas break (3 weeks), spring break (one week), summer break (3 months), Thanksgiving (four – five days), faculty retreat (3 days), research time (variable but at minimum 5-6 weeks per year.

            Actual days worked? 170 per year total.

            Pay – including benefits and pension funding – $138,000 per annum.

            I say not bad “work” if you can get it. And you got it!
            Congatulations! Well done!

          • Anonymous

            Yeah, ha ha, you nailed it!

            Why don’t you apply for my old job? They’re looking for my replacement now. With that kind of insight you’re sure to get the offer!

          • valley p

            Mort/Jerry…do I detect a class envy thing going on here? Or did some mean professor give you a bad grade back in the day? Do you long for the days before the weekend was invented? Do you miss child labor? Are holidays a socialist plot? Are people taking too many showers? I mean…where do you get this stuff?

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