Oregon doesn't have enough revenue for the services our families need, and the drastic cuts of the last decade haven’t fixed the problem.
We’ve been making a lot of cuts lately — and it’s really starting to hurt.
But, despite years of cuts, cuts and more cuts, our state continues to face a debilitatingly inadequate budget, and we’re nowhere near being able to cover the basic needs of the state. We’ve been forced to choose one critical service over another, and too many Oregonians are getting left behind. When our families struggle, our state falls behind in ways that really matter. We now have the 3rd largest class sizes in the country and one of the shortest school years, and our waiting lists for housing assistance and Head Start are unacceptably long.
We’re not living up to our reputation as a great place to call home, and we’re letting our communities down.
For years we’ve tried to solve the problem by cutting one critical service to fund another, but this has only made matters worse.
Here are just some of our casualties:
By cutting back, we’ve hurt our economy: We’ve let 5,300 full-time educators go since 2007, and we’ve slashed more than $8 billion in wages and benefits from teachers and state workers. With wages and benefits slashed, more families are reliant on state services to make ends meet, and those same services are at risk of getting cut, too.
And thanks to a 43.6% per student cut in state funding, we’ve jacked up tuition at all of our public universities and have taken higher education out of the equation for a lot of families.
Cuts to Employment Related Day Care mean that parents with jobs can’t afford to go to work, because there’s no affordable and reliable day care option for their kids.
And the list goes on…
You would think that with the series of dramatic cuts that have been made, we’d eventually catch up and get a chance to reinvest. The economy is supposed to be getting better, but the opposite is happening: Things are improving for only a few of the wealthiest Oregonians; Oregon’s families are struggling more than ever; and our schools and services are suffering right along with them.
The real problem here is that we simply don’t have the revenue we need for the services Oregonians deserve. Even with all of the cuts, it still isn’t enough. And there’s a reason why we can’t afford better schools, basic services or retirement programs, when states like Washington and California can: Corporations in Oregon pay the lowest business taxes in the country.
The cuts we’re making are the product of a raw-deal tax code that leaves families paying a ton while corporations don’t even pay the minimum. Each time we cut a school day or lay-off a teacher, we’re letting large and out-of-state corporations off the hook. This has to stop. We need to start reinvesting in our state and introducing simple fairness to our tax code.
This starts with corporations doing their part in Oregon. One small step in the direction of fairness in corporate taxes is to make sure every corporation pays at least Oregon’s incredibly low corporate tax — which, by the way, is only $150. The legislature has a chance to do just this, by closing the zero-tax loophole (also known as the Conway Loophole) so that large and out-of-state corporations can’t use accounting tricks to avoid paying their taxes.
Getting corporations to pay the bare minimum won’t save our schools, but it’s a start — and an important step toward a more prosperous Oregon.