Two years ago today, Oregonians stood up and chose to protect our local schools, seniors, and the safety of our communities, all while making sure that large corporations and the rich paid more of their fair share.
In the two years since, the corporate lobbyists who opposed Measures 66 and 67 have unfortunately continued waging a fight they lost, making many false claims about the measures and damaging Oregon’s business reputation in the process.
So, as we’ve done before, we wanted to bring you the actual facts that disprove the constant negative chatter coming from the very lobbyists who SHOULD be selling Oregon to the rest of the world:
1. Since the passage of Measures 66 & 67, venture capital investment coming into Oregon has skyrocketed. In 2011, Oregon startups brought in $238.6 million in venture capital, a 25% increase over the year before. That beats the national increase of 22%. It was the best investment year since the Wall Street meltdown, and nearly equaled the 2007 high point for new capital.
Why are investors putting their money in Oregon startups? Because we have bright, cutting-edge entrepreneurs who are doing things that make the rest of the world take notice. Oregon’s unique quality of life is bringing and keeping smart innovators here. But the more we cut the things that make the state great (like our schools, universities, environmental protections, care for the vulnerable, and business infrastructure), the less attractive the state will be for new and emerging businesses.
The question for legislators is “Are we going to invest in our shared goals that grow our economy, or will we keep making cuts that threaten our future?”
2. Our unemployment rate has dropped, from a high of 11.6% in May of 2009 to about 9% today.
But, big gains in the private sector have been offset by cuts to education, health care and other public jobs. Without Measures 66 & 67, the layoffs of teachers and other public employees would have been even higher, further stalling Oregon’s economic recovery. That’s especially true in rural communities, which depend heavily on schools, colleges, prisons, and health care facilities for jobs.
3. Businesses continue to move to and expand in Oregon, for the same reason that startup capital flowed into the state: Oregon’s way of life makes it a great place to do business.
But as a state, we’re still facing severe challenges. Wealth has become concentrated at the top while middle-class families suffer. Our schools, senior care, and basic services are woefully underfunded. And to top it all off, Measures 66 and 67 are largely expiring this year, leaving hundreds of millions of dollars that could be reducing our class sizes and protecting seniors.
As legislators prepare to start the short February session, we hope they’ll take a lesson from the wide support Oregonians showed on January 26, 2010 for our schools and critical services. We had a choice about our priorities then, and legislators have one now.