Readers' Letters
by: JONATHAN HOUSE, Letter writers this week argue that education will benefit — and the economy will improve — if Oregonians uphold the Legislature’s tax increases, which will appear on the ballot in January. Here, Rick Willebrand, department chairman of trades and industry at Portand Communty College's Cascade campus, cuts a piece of sheet metal during an HVAC class.

Let's be clear about the discussion in regards to voters undoing the hard-fought tax reform passed by the Legislature this year (State sees benefit of legislation, Oct. 15). This isn't about reducing the tax burden for everyday working families or state bureaucrats killing or driving business away. This is about the greed of a select few - plain and simple.

Over 97 percent of Oregonians aren't going to see their taxes go up. Let me repeat that number - 97 percent! In the event that you are one of the lucky few Oregonian couples who earn over a quarter million annually, this marginal tax increase only applies to income above that amount.

Profitable corporations will be paying an additional 1.3 percent on profits above a quarter million annually. Starting in 2013, this number drops to 1 percent and will only apply to profits over $10 million.

Arguments claiming that people will move to Vancouver due to the lack of a state income tax in Washington could be made until Oregon eliminated our state income tax as well (Tax savings lure big names across river, Oct. 8). This exodus is not accurate, nor is the idea even remotely feasible. Yet this argument will continue to be made again and again by anti-tax zealots to citizens like myself who believe that public services are vital and needed to be properly funded.

For anyone who honestly believes that the new tax rate is going to be a true hindrance for business, let me ask: Do you really think that the business community is going to be more concerned with a minute decrease to their bottom line, or with the further deterioration of the educational system that will be cultivating and training their future work force?

Adjusting for inflation, Oregon spends less today on our public school students than it did in 1992. Our higher education students? They've taken cut after cut already. If we're actually serious about competing with places like the Bay Area, Seattle or Austin in terms of recruiting and producing the best and the brightest, then the idea of further padding the pockets of the wealthy at the expense of education for our children is asinine.

You can slice the pie of tax revenue funds that are available for public services any way you want, but until you actually increase the amount that's available, education, health care and public safety will continue to decay and Oregon will keep falling behind.

I, for one, am voting against greed and will proudly vote to keep Oregon on the right track.

Matt Hilton

Vice president, AFSCME Local 328

Southwest Portland

Tax hikes will prevent job losses

The targeted tax increases instituted by the Legislature will actually save more jobs than will be lost (State sees benefit of legislation, Oct. 15). The tax increases will be spent for the most part in preventing the layoffs of teachers, first responders, health care providers and other human services personnel. Nearly all of these funds will be spent within our state. Some of the money provided by the tax increases will leverage additional federal funding that would not accrue to our state in the absence of the increases.

Tax increases for wealthy individuals and corporations will also cost jobs, but not as severely as would losses in revenue. Wealthy people generally don't spend all of their income and frequently spend some of it outside the state. Also, because state income taxes are deductible on federal tax returns, a fraction of state income tax liability is shifted to the federal government.

And since a considerable amount of our state's corporate income taxes are paid by out-of-state corporations, some of the corporate tax increases will reduce job creation in other states, but not in Oregon. Even with the Legislature's corporate tax increases, Oregon's business taxes will remain well below those of California, Washington, Idaho and Nevada.

Mike Litt

Lake Oswego

Sales tax would inch up over time

I read with interest Randy Miller's My View clarification on the taxation issue (Wealth's flight shows need for state tax reform, Oct. 22). I agree with him that on paper, a combination sales tax and income tax makes sense. The problem with that is it will only stay that way for a short time. A generation from now, I guarantee that our sales tax will be as high as our neighbors, and we will have a higher income tax as well. How do I know this? Because it has already happened.

My memories of the 1970s are California having a 6 percent sales tax, Washington a 3 percent and Oregon 0 percent. Fast forward to today, California is around 10 percent, Washington is around 8 percent and Oregon is still 0 percent. Can it go higher? This summer, I paid 12 percent sales tax in Chicago and 15.5 percent tax in Ontario, Canada. There is plenty of room to grow. In the near future, I don't think anyone with a sales tax will pay less than 10 percent. Since sales tax is based on percentages, then it should keep up with inflation. Why are Californians and Washingtonians paying so much more in 2009 than they were in 1979?

We would start out at 5 percent, but that will be slowly chipped away with small but permanent increases - they will come a quarter or a half percent at a time. If we open the door to this, it will eventually mean substantially higher taxes for everyone.

Alan Cohen


Cedar Hills offers what patients need

Cedar Hills fills a needed care niche - that of a 'step-down' facility in the sense that the beds not given over to hospital-level services represent a 'residential plus' level of care (Cedar Hills psychiatric beds are seeing use, Oct. 15). It does not pretend to compete with inpatient hospitalization, given that most of its capability is given over to less medically overamped services. (Yes, that was a double negative.)

Step-down notwithstanding, Cedar Hills provides a full staff of competent mental health providers - physicians, nurse practitioners and skilled therapists - to treat persons who do not need IVs or ECT. Most psychiatric patients that purportedly require hospital-level services do not benefit more substantially from that level of care over what Cedar Hills offers.

I have personally treated patients discharged from Cedar Hills, and all have been well cared for and readied for the next stage of treatment. In my experience, what Cedar Hills offers is what the majority of psychiatric and chemically dependent patients really need by way of non-outpatient care.

Cindy Bowling, PMHNP


Bring Jefferson back to life

Thank you for taking the lead and writing a positive story on Jefferson High School (Jefferson rising, but more change on way, Oct. 15). It is greatly appreciated.

Being an alumni of this school, I know the positive influence that this school can and has given for 100 years.

Jefferson's school song rings true with, 'Jefferson will live in our hearts and never die.' This is what Jefferson is about - forever living and giving each student the spirit to want to learn and grow.

The history of this school is great and needs to continue. Music can grow, students can return to this school and bring it alive again. The 1959 class of Jefferson was known as the golden class, as it took every honor in sports and the Rose Festival Princess was crowned Queen of Rosaria.

Can this happen again? Yes!

Jefferson, like any other school, needs to be given the chance to become alive again with laughter in the halls and spirit in the ears of each person - from teachers to students.

People, is there not a piano out there that is just waiting to be donated to Jefferson High School?

Jackie Matheson

Southwest Portland

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