by Suzanne Penegor and Jennifer Solomon
Family wage timber jobs are the solution to stable school funding – not new taxes
In the middle of this recession, Oregon voters are being asked again to foot new taxes – again for schools. It’s hard to believe just 13 months ago voters passed Measures 66 and 67. Both taxes (one was even retroactive!) were promised to solve the state’s school funding and budget issues. Together, both taxes were said to raise $737 million in new money for schools and other state programs.
It turns out that nothing could have been further from the truth. Where exactly is that $737 million?
Now, Oregon cities such as Eugene are faced with the prospect of new punitive taxes to pay for schools. The state teachers’ union, the most powerful lobby in Oregon, is out there telling voters they just need to pay more taxes in order to have good schools.
It’s a broken record.
In Eugene, voters will decide this May whether to raise taxes an estimated $16.8 million via an income tax on residents for the operation of schools. There is no discussion of whether to try to find cost savings in school bureaucracies, or even discussion of better using our existing tax base, such as cutting timber to provide jobs and tax dollars to our local schools from public lands. Instead, voters are subjected to a guilt trip and a chance to hand over yet more of their hard-earned income to the government.
Governor Kitzhaber says he’s going to put together a task force to work on the state’s education funding problem, but the teachers’ union doesn’t want to wait if they can get another tax. Kitzhaber should also be looking at ways to use our abundant renewable resource – timber – to finance our public schools as it has in the past.
The proposed Eugene city income tax isn’t fair because an estimated 24 percent of Eugene School District students reside outside the city limits, which means their parents wouldn’t have to pay the new tax. In addition, PERS recipients are exempt from this new proposed city tax.
Instead of raising taxes in tough times, Oregon cities should be making it more desirable to locate in Oregon and bring in new businesses and jobs for Oregonians. Instead, all the teachers’ union and local governments want to do is add more and more taxes to increase the tax burden on those of us who live here. Not much of an incentive to stay.
There is a better solution. It’s time to use our renewable natural resources as we have in the past to provide Oregonians with family wage jobs and to provide our schools with the funding that we need for good education. Raising taxes or creating new taxes is not the answer in tough economic times. Wise use of our existing tax base would again provide us with funding for critical services such as education and public safety.