Ads by OEA and “Our Oregon” self-serving and fiscally irresponsible

by Publius

Our Oregon recently ran ads criticizing State Representative Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point) for his role in helping the Ways and Means Committee to develop the K-12 budget that was recently signed into law by Governor John Kitzhaber.

The ads falsely claim that ““Richardson wants to make drastic cuts to services we depend on … so Richardson can keep more than $440 million in unspent funds for his political priorities.”

In fact, Oregon’s K-12 budget was developed and passed in the strongest possible bi-partisan fashion.  It was first adopted by the Ways and Means Committee, which consists of two Democrats (Rep. Peter Buckley D-Ashland, Sen. Richard Devlin D-Tualitin) and Richardson, the lone Republican.  The co-chair’s budget contained $100 million more for K-12 education than the Governor’s original budget.  It passed unanimously in the Senate.  In the House, Democratic Co-Speaker Arnie Roblan told Republicans, “I’ll bring my 16 names, you bring your 16 names and that’s how we’re going to get through it.”

It is true that the K-12 budget proposes to keep $440 million in Oregon’s School Stability Fund.  However, this money is not being tapped for anyone’s pet political priorities, it is being retained to ensure that further cuts are not necessary during the second year of the legislative biennium.

As Governor Kitzhaber has pointed out:  “The most irresponsible thing we could do is to pump this budget with one-time resources and find ourselves in 2013 in exactly the same situation we find ourselves in today,”

Yet that’s exactly what Our Oregon is proposing.  Why?

To unravel that mystery, it helps to know who is really behind Our Oregon. As Richard Leonitti reported in the Oregon Catalyst three years ago, Our Oregon is a 501(c)4 non-profit that was formed in 2005 by Arthur Towers, political director for SEIU local 503 and Larry Wolf, then head of the Oregon Education Association.  Towers has remained as the organization’s Secretary, while Gail Rasmussen, OEA’s current president, is currently listed as President of Our Oregon.

So it is no surprise that the organization, that has spent nearly a million of OEA and SEIU’s money electioneering during the last three election cycles – a no-no for non-profits – would take a position against a budget that is opposed by OEA.

But why does OEA want to spend down the state’s reserve?

The answer is simple:  OEA affiliates are currently involved in budget negotiations in in some of the biggest school districts in the state.  The more money they are able to bring into the education arena now, the better their chances are of retaining higher wages and benefits for teachers as a result of those negotiations.

If that money is held back until after the current round of negotiations are complete, it will result in a longer school year and fewer layoffs of teachers.  What it won’t do is pad the salary and benefits of teachers.

As its own documents show, OEA has been highly effective at protecting the salary and benefits of its members.  According to a 2010 report by the National Education Association, Oregon is currently 21st in per capita K-12 funding.  However, we are ranked 46th in teacher-to-student ratio, and according to a report by the Portland Public Schools, Oregon ranks near the bottom in student instructional hours.

The bottom line for Oregonians is that the Governor, the co-chairs of Ways and Means, and the legislature have done the right thing by retaining money in the Education Stability Fund.  It is self-serving and fiscally irresponsible for OEA and its surrogates like Our Oregon to insist that this money be spent now.

 

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in State Budget | 14 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Rupert in Springfield

    It is the OEA’s job to be self serving. They are a teachers union. they have one job and one job only and that is to extract the greatest amount of money from the taxpayer for their members. That’s it, that is the only purpose of any union.

    To act as if the OEA should be, or is, anything other than self serving is absurd.

    A union always represents an adversarial relationship. They want as much money from the employer in exchange for as little work as possible. In the case of public employee unions, such as the OEA, the employer is the taxpayer. The OEA wants as much of the taxpayers money as it can get in exchange for as little effort as it can put out.

    This is news to anyone?

    The OEA is no different than any other union. Its about helping its membership, not the employer, which in this case, is us.

    • 3H

      “A union always represents an adversarial relationship. They want as much money from the employer in exchange for as little work as possible.”

      Countered by the fact that the employer wants as much work from the employee in exchange for as little money as possible. 😉

      • Rupert in Springfield

        Congratulations, you have an ability to state the obvious. Now do you have a point?

        • 3H

          When I read your post, I assumed it was obvious and absurd day. Is that privledge reserved only for yourself?

          • Rupert in Springfield

            No you didn’t. You thought you were being clever in pointing out something you thought I was omitting because I would disagree with it. Well, I didn’t. It just was not germane to my post, since I was addressing the silliness of pointing out the OEA is self serving.

        • 3H

          When I read your post, I assumed it was obvious and absurd day. Is that privledge reserved only for yourself?

      • Mmcconoughey

        I disagree that “the employer wants as much work from the employee in exchange for as little money as possible.” The claim may seem to make intuitive sense but in fact, organizations, are diverse, usually have multiple goals. Security, morale, long-term viability, prestige, social status, etc. are all well known to influence organizational goals and behavior. I’ve been an employer and employee. Neither status brings forth a single-goal form of behavior.

        Organizational behavior is deeply researched. The book “Organizational Behavior,” by Robert Kreitner and Angelo Kinicki is now in its 14th edition. The human animal is anything but simplistic.

        • valley person

          You are dragging common sense and logic into this. Shame on you.

  • Bob Clark

    Talking teacher union…

    In the Portland Public Schools district, early March 2011, citizens were hosed by a quick late night deal agreed to by the Portland Public Schools board and the Portland Teachers Union. The public was given less than two business days to review the terms of the new union contract, and the School board approved it on the second business night. Subsequently, the Teachers Union gives Jeff Cogen’s “Portlanders for Schools” gang some $100k to help run the current series of Television ads using the old saw: “Do it for the Children, or else somebody gets hurt.”

    I find Portland city and Multnomah county politics very discouraging because the electorate generally has a very low level of skepticism of government, a level of skepticism that is actually unhealthy. Leonitti had a great quote about Portland Public Schools and their current request for more than a half of billion dollars: [paraphrasing] Giving the School District this largesse is like giving a cocaine addict crack cocaine.

  • Joe

    If the OEA’s sole purpose is to keep teachers fat and happy, why is that bad? If the teachers are fat and happy they will put more effort into their work and our kids will benefit.
    I see nothing wrong with the teacher’s union. They are doing a good job for the teachers, who work very, very hard almost 174 days each and every year.
    Very hard do you hear me????

    • 3H

      Nice. Classy. Best part? You couldn’t even respond to the right person. Unless that was truly directed at Joe. Which is just confusing.

    • 3H

      Nice. Classy. Best part? You couldn’t even respond to the right person. Unless that was truly directed at Joe. Which is just confusing.

  • JAC

    Did the OEA and Our Oregon run ads against Dave Hunt and democrats when they cut $150 million from school funding two years ago? I don’t think so… SHAME ON THEM!!!!

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