The news headlines over the past couple of weeks chronicle the dismal outlook for Oregon’s current and future economic climate. With over 160,000 private sector jobs lost, another 40,000 plus new entrants to the workforce unable to find jobs and record home foreclosures, Oregonians didn’t need more bad news.
Michelle Cole, Oregonian reported:
“Budget cuts ordered by Gov. Ted Kulongoski will soon hit home for thousands of Oregonians: The Department of Human Services has started notifying seniors and people with disabilities that the state can no longer afford the services they receive.
“. . . Approximately 2,400 letters were mailed Thursday to Oregonians who get more than 20 hours per month of state-paid in-home help, such as bathing or preparing meals.
“’We are sorry to tell you that those services will end on July 31, 2010,’ the letter says. ‘The reason for this change is that Oregon’s poor economy has resulted in reduced dollars for important public programs.’”
The Gazette Times.com reported:
“Budget cuts ordered by Gov. Ted Kulongoski will soon hit home for thousands of Oregonians: The Department of Human Services has started notifying seniors and people with disabilities that the state can no longer afford the services they receive.”
Betsy Hammond, Oregonian noted:
“Parents, principals and teachers are aghast that Portland high schools may have to ax one-tenth of their teachers in the next few weeks as the school district grapples with a $19 million state funding cut. “
The Associated Press reported:
“Oregonians by the thousands are using up the last of their unemployment benefits, many after as long as two years.
“So far this year, more than 14,000 Oregonians have run out of jobless benefits, the state Employment Department reported Friday. That includes about 3,000 people drawing benefits from a temporary state extension that ends the week of July 4.
“By November, the department said, more than 64,000 additional Oregonians face exhausting their benefits.”
The Associated Press also reported:
The state’s foreclosure rate unexpectedly jumped 20 percent in the first quarter, making it No. 3 in the country. Oregon still ranks far behind longtime foreclosure champs Nevada and Florida. But the rate of increase has put it in the top five. . .
“’It’s a situation that is getting worse,’ [state’s senior economist, Josh] Harwood said. ‘It will only get better when we see better job growth, which we’re not expecting through the end of this year.’”[Bracketed words supplied]
And finally, the Daily Journal of Commerce (DJC.com) noted:
“Portland contractors say they are starting to see work trickle into their offices, but not to the point that they are ready to start hiring more staff.
‘The Associated General Contractors of America last week reported 294 out of 337 metro areas in the U.S. lost construction jobs between May 2009 and May 2010.‘In the Portland area, that one-year loss amounted to 5,300 jobs, an 11 percent drop that local contractors hope is leading to a turning point.
“While little signs show that work is picking up in the private sector, Portland-area contractors say they are seeing a slight uptick in the number of public projects. . .”
Twenty-four straight years of Oregon Democrat governors. Twenty-four years of unprecedented growth in government spending and tax increases. Twenty-four years of unchecked growth in the number of public employees, their salaries and their benefits (PERS and healthcare). Twenty-four years without the slightest understanding that the health of Oregon government is secondary to the health of Oregon’s economy.
And yet, as we near another election, Oregon Democrats are using variations of points in a newsletter lately published by Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland). The Buckley newsletter is too long to reproduce but following are the salient points:
1. It’s not the Democrats’ fault (therefore it must be George Bush’s fault).
2. They acted responsibly by cutting the budget by $2Billion dollars. (Actually they increased the budget by about $14 Billion and the “cut” they describe is really an additional $2 Billion they didn’t spend.)
3. Oregon is entitled to a continued federal bailout because the Democrats need more money to spend.
4. A sales tax would not have prevented a recession but it’s still a good idea to enact one so that the Democrats have more money to spend.
5. Oregon should repeal the “kicker” law because the Democrats need more money to spend.
6. Oregon needs to repeal the taxpayers’ initiatives limiting tax increases so that the Democrats have more money to spend.
7. Public employees are not the cause of Oregon’s funding crises. (This despite the fact that public employee healthcare costs exceed the private sector, the PERS system is threatening to bankrupt many of Oregon’s smaller communities and perhaps the state itself, and the number of public employees have increased while over 200,000 Oregonians remain unemployed in the private sector.)
8. Oregon needs to look at increasing taxes on corporations and individual so that the Democrats have more money to spend.
Oregon’s Democrats still view the current economic crises in terms of its effects on government rather than its effects on Oregonians. That view reflects the dominance of the public employees unions as the financial arm of the Democrat Party – government spending must increase to maintain the health and power of the public employee unions.
But Oregon remains a default Democrat state – absent a reason to vote for Republicans, Oregonians will vote for the Democrats. Until the Republicans set forth a clear, cogent and collective plan to improve Oregon’s job picture through economic growth, Oregon will continue to return the Democrats to power – after all, they have the money (public employee unions’ financial contributions) and the message (something for nothing and the rich will pay).