It Doesn’t Really Look Like You’re Prioritizing Schools

Tell your network:

Tell your network:

You’ll never meet a politician who doesn’t say “Schools are a top priority!”

But talking isn’t doing.

Welcome to our mini-series, It doesn’t look like you’re prioritizing schools.

prioritize-schools

Last week, a bill was introduced by a trio of Republican state senators that would hand out nearly a half billion dollars in a new tax cut for the richest Oregonians.

thomsenphoto                    olsenphoto                    knoppphoto

Sens. Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River), Alan Olsen (R-Canby), and Tim Knopp (R-Bend) are the sponsors of Senate Bill 593, which would force even deeper cuts to schools, senior services, and public safety, all just to give a break to those at the top.

capitalgainspiechartSB 593 proposes to cut Oregon’s capital gains rate in half. The presumed purpose is to increase investment activity in Oregon. However, as economic reports indicate and as business leaders have testified,  the capital gains tax rate does not affect investment decisions. John Calhoun — Oregon entrepreneur, investor, and CEO of Inside Valuation Partners — has called the idea just a myth.

So what would SB 593 do? It would force around $400 million in cuts to schools and other critical services, to primarily benefit the ultra-rich. According to an analysis by the Oregon Center for Public Policy, the top 1% of households take in about 70% of all capital gains income, and most of that income goes to the top 1/10th of 1%. The richest of the richest would get the vast majority of the benefit from SB 593, while the public picks up the tab via cuts to schools, senior care, and other vital services.

The timing of SB 593 couldn’t be worse.

On the front page of the Oregonian this weekend was an in-depth story on how Oregon’s crisis of overcrowded classrooms is driving the debate in Salem about how to adequately fund our schools and basic services.

school funding vs tax breaks (2013-15 update)It’s not difficult to see why. Oregon has the third largest class sizes in the nation, and among the shortest school years. Across the state, schools have closed, thousands of teacher and school employee positions have been cut, and days have been cut from the calendar.

Services for seniors and people with disabilities also face cuts, and critical services for struggling families have been slashed when they’re needed most.

At the same time, the amount of money we’re projected to give away in tax breaks has increased by $8 billion–29%–just since 2009.

Talk to a parent, teacher, or student, and you’ll hear a laundry list of impacts they’ve felt in the past few years due to ongoing budget cuts.

Which makes this new bill all the more shocking — both in scope and in timing. Oregon already gives away billions of dollars in tax breaks, even while our schools suffer. Yet Sens. Thomsen, Olson, and Knopp want to give away more.

Outraged? Go here to tell your legislators to say NO to this terrible idea.

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