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Letters: Cost-cutters asking the wrong question

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Readers spout off on Republican demands for PERS cuts, Trump's travel ban, and Fritz's $40,000 staff trip to Arizona

In a recent article, Republican legislators were calling for cuts to public employee compensation as a way of addressing Oregon's $1.8 billion shortfall.

As a public employee, I find the revenue shortfall deeply concerning. I work at Portland State University and serve students who cannot afford a tuition increase. I know when cuts are made, it's these students who will be hurt.

I've also heard the proposals that Oregon should attempt to balance the budget by cutting public employees' retirement benefits. This is the wrong approach.

I've been working at PSU for three years and earning significantly less than I would earn as a paralegal in the private sector. Our retirement is part of our compensation, especially since low salaries and rising housing costs prevent many public employees from being able to otherwise save for retirement.

Like many public employees, I believe in what I'm doing, and I worry that people like me won't do these jobs if the compensation is cut again.

Whether to balance the budget by cutting programs that students need or by hurting hardworking public employees is not the question legislators should be asking. We should be asking why they are proposing cuts when we are 50th in the nation in corporate taxes.

Emily Gothard

Southwest Portland

All should worry about travel ban

Why should I be affected by President Donald Trump's travel ban? Me and my close relatives are citizens. None of us are Muslims. None of us has even been to any of the "seven countries."

Nonetheless, I may need to take over long work trips from a permanent-resident colleague of mine who is now afraid to leave the country. He isn't from one of the seven countries and is not Muslim, but he reasonably believes a future capricious executive order could trap him overseas, away from his wife and young children.

A well-educated Indian Hindu is by no stretch of the imagination a risk to the United States, but neither are carefully vetted refugees fleeing ISIS's reign of terror, so who knows who's next? Because few Americans are willing to undergo the rigors of a science doctorate, many, if not most, of the scientists and engineers driving U.S. innovation are foreign-born. Many of those may consider leaving if they cannot feel secure here, and American technology, followed by American jobs, will follow in their wake if they do.

We must secure our borders from those who would harm us, just as we should keep American jobs here. But tactics need to be chosen based on real outcomes rather than on what plays well on Fox News.

Bruce Rehlaender

Lake Oswego

As health care burns, bigwigs get raises

It is always reassuring to know that professionals in our public institutions, like OHSU President Joe Robertson, can identify opportunities to enrich themselves in times of peril. His recent salary boost and bonus reassures us, the wage earners and the dispossessed, validating cynical notions of the place we inhabit in our local communities and the greater society we endure.

While we face lagging wages and unbridled laws protecting landlords, Robertson confirms the profound lack of opportunities in our own lives, reassuring us that income inequality is a reality rather than a statistic.

While the Affordable Care Act implodes and Medicare and Medicaid are under siege, Robertson has received a $100,000 raise and nearly $300,000 in bonuses in 2016.

Way to go, Joe! Not only have you lined your pockets for the gloomy future of America's imminent health care catastrophe, you have provided further evidence of the cynical society we live in, right here in this "progressive" city, Portland, Oregon.

Bill Berry

North Portland

$40,000 for a staff trip? Come on

For over three years, my neighbors and I have begged and petitioned the city of Portland for a simple speed bump to slow traffic on our Richmond neighborhood block, only to be told there was no money for it.

To learn that Amanda Fritz is spending $40,000 to take her staff to Arizona for diversity training makes me think it's time for a citizen revolution in Portland.

Mayor Wheeler, get a grip on this out-of-control bureaucracy.

Frank DiMarco

Southeast Portland