Today’s Clips – February 15, 2011

The new revenue forecast was released this morning – state revenues for the current budget are flat, but slightly down for the 2011-13 budget, showing an improving state economy. Gov. Kitzhaber released a statement today, saying "The worst is over, but Oregon’s recovery will take time."

A tuition equity bill with bipartisan sponsorship was introduced with great fanfare yesterday — it would allow the children of undocumented immigrants who graduate from Oregon high schools to pay in-state tuition at Oregon universities, allowing greater access to higher education.

Budget cuts still loom — and some legislators (and the Gov) have suggested significant cuts to the state’s cash assistance program (assistance to unemployed families) as a way to save money. Labor groups launch a support network for Oregon’s most vulnerable folks, and a House panel looks at giving tax credits to companies that create jobs.

New revenue forecast released

Oregon’s economy in ‘recovery’ but state revenues are flat for this year, down for next
Oregonian
"Oregon’s state revenue picture is, well, flat. Economists delivering the latest update to legislative revenue committees on Tuesday said they expect overall state tax collections for the current budget period are down slightly, by about $1.5 million. Positive signs: Personal income tax growth is accelerating. Corporate taxes remain high. ‘Hopefully, down the road we should see some gains in employment,’ said Oregon state economist Tom Potiowsky. So that means it looks like there won’t be any more cuts to the state’s current budget. But challenges for the state’s 2011-13 budget remain. The forecast shows revenues could be down by another $110 million."

Oregon revenue forecast remains flat
Portland Business Journal
"Tom Potiowsky, Oregon’s state economist, blamed the continued drop on a “prolonged plunge” in personal income taxes, especially those related to non-wage forms of income. The flat forecast spurred guarded optimism from Democrats and continued concern from Republicans. ‘Today’s revenue forecast is consistent with the analysis we used in creating my budget,’ said Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, in a statement. ‘The worst is over, but Oregon’s recovery will take time… Now is the right time to integrate and streamline state services like health care and education to deliver better outcomes and reduce costs.’"

Tuition equity bill introduced, gains bipartisan support

Immigrant education bill gains support
Statesman Journal
"Some students, regardless of their immigration status, would pay tuition at state universities at the same rates as other Oregon residents under a bill that is likely to mimic some aspects of the national debate about immigration. The bill, which has surfaced in previous sessions, has Democratic and Republican cosponsors. Advocates said the bill would benefit students such as Jessica Garcia, now a sophomore at North Eugene High School, who moved to the United States with her mother when she was 1 year old. She competes in track and cross-country and would like to become a microbiologist."

VIDEO: Bipartisan tuition equity bill
KATU
"KATU News Broadcast on the bipartisan Tuition Equity Bill introduced during a Press Conference at the Oregon State Capitol."

Student wants to pay in-state, but parents undocumented
KATU
"A teenager pleaded with Oregon lawmakers Monday to allow her to pay in-state tuition at Oregon colleges even though she does not legally have citizenship. Jessica Garcia, a sophomore at North Eugene High School, has lived in Oregon since she was just a year old. Her parents are undocumented, which means she is not considered an Oregon citizen and not eligible for in-state tuition."

New bill allows in-state tuition for immigrants
Gazette Times
"Several members of the Legislature, including Sen. Frank Morse, R-Albany, say they’ll sponsor a bill that would allow undocumented Oregon students to pay in-state college tuition. The bill’s sponsors made the announcement Monday during a press conference at the Capitol in Salem. There has been controversy over allowing students who are not legal immigrants to attend public schools and colleges, but the Morse bill focuses on what level of tuition undocumented students must pay."

Budget cuts

Oregon cash assistance program could see cuts
KDRV
"Oregon Legislators are considering significantly reducing how long a family can receive the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The TANF program, which is associated with the Oregon Trail Plan, gives unemployed and underemployed families money through the Department of Human Services for up to 60-months. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber recently proposed reducing that time frame to 18 months. State Rep. Wally Hicks (R- Grants Pass) is taking the proposal a step further. He is sponsoring a House bill that would limit the time frame to just 12 months."

EDITORIAL: ESDs under a microscope
Register Guard
"The Oregon Legislature, having already searched under the sofa cushions for change and returned empty soda bottles for deposit, is taking a close look at Oregon’s 20 education service districts. Opportunities to wring savings from ESDs should be explored — their budgets are large, and their operations are under-examined — but if the districts did not exist, something like them would have to be invented."

Gov. John Kitzhaber’s plan to shift highway money to schools faces trouble in Legislature
OregonLive
"One of the more intriguing parts of Gov. John Kitzhaber’srecommended budget — a proposal to effectively shift nearly $100 million from the state highway fund to schools — has run into immediate trouble at the Legislature. Powerful lobbyists have lined up quickly against it. Would-be allies in Democratic circles are panning the idea. And even ardent school advocates are voicing only muted support."

Labor groups to launch support network

MyCentralOregon
"With the state’s unemployment still above the national average, new networks are springing up here in Oregon to help those without a job cope. The latest networking effort, ‘Oregon Wants To Work’, is a collaborative effort of several labor groups that want to help those with and without jobs. Harold Trinen, a financial analyst, said he’ll be at the first meeting. He’s been without work for almost two years and said he hopes the meeting will prompt companies to take a closer look at what he calls the high caliber of workers who never expected to be idled by the economy."

Oregon House panel looks at legislation to create jobs
Register Guard
"Oregon lawmakers on Monday considered two proposals to grant tax credits to companies that create jobs. The ideas are still in their infancy but are part of an intense push by lawmakers to encourage businesses to hire Oregonians looking for work. More than one in 10 Oregon workers is unemployed, a rate worse than the national average. House Bill 2411 would grant a tax credit of up to $500,000 to businesses that build new facilities in Oregon and expand their payroll. Expansions in regions designated ‘distressed areas’ would get a tax credit worth 5 percent of the new costs for employee pay."

City to send voters school income tax
Register Guard
"Eugene voters in May will decide the fate of a city income tax intended to raise money for public schools. At the urging of parents and teachers, the City Council voted 7 to 1 Monday night to put an income tax on the May 17 ballot. If approved by voters, the tax would raise an estimated $16.8 million for the Eugene and Bethel school districts annually for four years to minimize teacher layoffs, keep class sizes from growing more than necessary and preserve as many instruction days as possible."

Other headlines

Sellwood Bridge-fee foes racking up signatures
OregonCityNews
"Petitioners expect to turn in more than 7,000 signatures on Wednesday, Feb. 16, the deadline to place a controversial $5 vehicle registration fee increase on Clackamas County’s May 17 ballot. To refer an ordinance to voters, the petitioners have 90 full days to submit 6,252 verified signatures. On Dec. 9 the Board of County Commissioners passed the ordinance to help fund the reconstruction of the Sellwood Bridge."

Predatory loan critics win key victory
Portland Business Journal
"The federal government has given Oregon consumer advocates a big victory in their fight against so-called "predatory" tax refund loans. Last Wednesday, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. issued a cease and desist order against a Kentucky bank that works with tax giant Jackson Hewitt to offer such loans. Economic Fairness Oregon says high-interest tax refund loans cost Oregonians $8 million in 2008."

Payments to counties squeezed but remain
Register Guard
"The White House is proposing once again to renew its so-called county payments aid to Lane County and scores of other rural counties nationwide, but at an ever-dwindling rate, officials said Monday. President Obama’s proposed budget included $328 million for the first in a five-year extension of the county payments program that has long propped up Lane County and other county governments across the West, federal lawmakers said."

EDITORIAL: No bankruptcy for states
Register Guard
"The notion that deficit- ridden states should be able to declare bankruptcy is a slam dunk for the Bad Idea Hall of Fame, but don’t expect it go away any time soon. Not with states across the country mired in financial despair. Tax revenues are plunging, demands for services are soaring and obligations for pensions and health care are devouring ever-larger portions of state budgets. The idea is being pushed by a growing number of conservative activists, including Newt Gingrich and Jeb Bush.

12 Responses to “Today’s Clips – February 15, 2011”

  1. http://www.florida912groups.com/

    I was going out the door, but I was briefly watching the CBS morning news news, and Jack Ford was explaining how this is one of those very rare cases that the prosecution is even allowed to appeal. It has something to do with the level felony it is, the quirky nature of NJ law, and the sentencing guidelines ignored by the judge. Personally, I thought he'd get 18 months to 3 years; 30 days was a shock to the court observers.

    Reply

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Who’s Spending the Most to Lobby the Legislature?

With the Oregon Legislature beginning its third week of the 2011 session, we thought it was time to ask a basic question: Who spends the most money lobbying the legislature and trying to shape state policy?

The Office of Government Ethics tracks how much individual groups spend on lobbying. However, to our knowledge, no one has ever analyzed the data to find out what types of groups spend the most, despite the level of influence that such lobbying expenses can have on policies that affect every Oregonian.

So, we took the Office of Government Ethics Lobbyist Expenditure Reports for 2009 and 2010 and grouped the nearly 900 organizations by category:

Issue Advocacy Nonprofits
Labor Unions
Corporations
Business Associations
Government
Direct Service Agencies
Public Sector Professional Associations
Private Sector Professional Associations

Here’s what we found:

Combined, the above groups spent $48,624,737 on lobbying in 2009 and 2010.

By far, corporations made up the largest segment of lobbying expenditures. Corporations spent $15,235,195. That’s 31.3% of all spending.

Business associations spent another $9,905,926, or 20.4% of all spending. That means that corporations and business associations combined made up 51.7% of all lobbying expenditures.

Nonprofits (ranging in ideology from 1,000 Friends of Oregon to the NRA) spent $8,845,898, or 18.19% of all lobbying.

Government (including school districts, cities, counties, Native American tribes, and state agencies) spent $7,823,102, or 16% of all spending.

Labor unions—both public sector and private sector—spent $2,708,320
(5.57% of all lobbying).

Public sector professional associations spent $1,476,589 (3.03%), private sector professional associations spent $2,150,494 (4.4%), and direct service agencies spent $479,211 (1%).

Takeaways:
During 2009 and 2010, Oregon’s business lobbyists argued—loudly—that they were shut out of the legislative process. But in that time period, they spent more money lobbying legislators (more than $25 million) than any other category.

Combined, corporations and business associations spent nearly ten times more than labor unions–$25.1 million compared to $2.7 million. Why is that important? Corporate lobbyists and right-wing pundits in Oregon have been trying to paint a picture that public employee unions have too much influence in the state legislature.

In reality, corporations throw more money at the state capitol than anyone else.

2 Responses to “Who’s Spending the Most to Lobby the Legislature?”

  1. Anonymous

    So government is really a servant to corporations, right. ok then, so curb our demands, with money, where we spend it, and perhaps the corporations topple, as they build power with the money we give them through taxes and consumption choices. x, be well, a thought of reality.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    And that is exactly what is wrong with this country and politics. We need campaign finance reform and strict lobbying laws and regulations or just end the job of lobbyist entirely.

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Today’s Clips – February 14, 2011

Happy birthday, Oregon! And happy Valentine’s Day to you!

President Obama will be in Hillsboro on Friday, speaking at a local Intel plant. Budget talks get more detailed as we learn the impacts of huge losses in statewide and federal funding. Proposed cuts to state workers’ healthcare make national headlines and budget worries continue for local schools and districts.


A preliminary report by the state Criminal Justice Commission shows that Measure 11 has been largely unsuccessful since its passage in 1994.

On this holiday, we see stories of love from across the state in support of marriage equality. A tuition equity bill will be introduced in the legislature today, allowing undocumented students who graduate from high school in Oregon to pay in-state tuition at state universities.

Look out for the new revenue forecast, which will be released tomorrow.

Valentine’s Day, Oregon’s birthday, virtual schools and revenue forecast this week in Salem
Oregonian
"This week will be a busy one for the Oregon Legislature (and a fun one to watch). Let’s start with the House Education Committee, which will continue public hearings Monday on virtual schools. Tuesday brings an updated quarterly revenue forecast."

President will visit Hillsboro on Friday

President Obama to visit Intel on Feb. 18
Oregonian
"President Barack Obama will visit Intel Corp.’s sprawling Ronler Acres Campus in Hillsboro on Feb. 18, the White House announced Friday to highlight the importance of education and how that fits into the country’s future in the high-tech economy. The visit to Intel will be the next installment in his travel since the State of the Union address to promote key elements of the speech."

President Obama to visit Intel plant in Oregon
USA Today
"That’s the word from the White House, which just announced the Feb. 18 trip to Hillsboro, Ore., as part of the president’s push for technology. He will appear with Intel CEO Paul Otellini. Obama will tour one of the world’s largest and most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facilities, and learn more about Intel’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education programs — part of Intel’s efforts to prepare the next generation to compete for high-tech jobs."

Budget cuts make local, national impact

Custodial services majority of proposed budget cuts
Statesman Journal
"Custodians, printers, procurement officials and computer help-desk technicians are some of the state employees who would lose their jobs under Gov. John Kitzhaber’s proposed budget. The two-year budget initially was vague regarding which specific jobs might be lost as Kitzhaber tries to rein in state spending. Details now are beginning to emerge about the positions that would be lost if the Legislature adopts the governor’s budget as presented."

Plans for federal budget cuts could hit home in Oregon
Oregonian
"When Congress begins constructing a new budget this week, all the high-volume talk of deficits and earmarks and fiscal responsibility will give way to these on-the-ground realities for Oregon: A suicide hotline run by Oregon Partnership may run out of money because an expected $200,000 earmark has evaporated.The Portland Housing Bureau could find itself unable to meet rising needs for poor families if the Obama administration carries through with plans to cut $300 million from Community Development Block Grants…"

States aim ax at health cost of retirement
New York Times
"In Oregon, Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, is demanding that state employees start paying part of their premiums. Oregon is the only state in which state employees do not contribute to any of their premiums for either family or individual health plans. Ken Allen, the executive director of that union’s Oregon operation, opposes Mr. Kitzhaber’s plans for premiums. “We’ve given up wage increases for four of the past eight years in order to keep fully paid health care,” Mr. Allen said. ‘Yes, we have fully paid health care, but we gave up a lot to keep it.’"

Measure 11 not successful

Draft report: Oregon’s Measure 11 failing to fulfill promises
Oregonian
"The promises of Measure 11, Oregon’s get-tough-on-crime measure passed in 1994, haven’t been met because prosecutors are bargaining cases down to crimes that carry no mandatory sentence. A draft report by the state Criminal Justice Commission said power in the justice system has unexpectedly shifted to district attorneys and their deputies. Measure 11 imposed mandatory sentences that judges could rarely change, but prosecutors are increasingly winning convictions in cases with no required sentence. Only about one in three people indicted for a Measure 11 crime is convicted of it."

Measure 11 criticized in report
Register Guard
"Measure 11, Oregon’s mandatory minimum prison sentencing law, hasn’t delivered what it promised, according to a draft state report that is raising the hackles of crime-victim advocates. The report, released to people outside state government earlier than a majority of the seven-member Oregon Criminal Justice Commission wanted, concluded that the law has shifted from judges to prosecutors the authority to sentence criminals. And, in spite of proponents’ claims, the law hasn’t led to consistent sentencing and doesn’t deter people from committing crimes, according to the study."

What lies ahead for Oregon education

Does Oregon education need reform or revolution?
Oregonian
"STEVE DUIN — In the clumsy, head-scratching wake of the governor’s education reform announcement, several things came into focus: * Communication is not among John Kitzhaber’s gifts or priorities. He can’t — or won’t — deal in specifics or simple, illuminating illustrations. It never occurs to the governor, apparently, that an idea can’t be persuasive if it’s impenetrable. * Although he campaigned on the need for change, the governor still underestimates how ready we are for it."

Hermiston School District needs to cut $1.16 million
KEPR
"$3.5 billion has been slashed in Oregon education and that’s forcing the Hermiston School District to cut nearly $2 million from its budget. Based on the 2010-2011 budget, the district would need to cut approximately $1.8 million for the upcoming school year. The district has reserved funds of about $700,000 they can use, but that would still leave a deficit of $1.1 million. It’s a trend that has become all too familiar over the past few years. ‘We’ve seen three million dollars worth of cuts virtually every single year as these dollars have dwindled down from year to year,’ said Assistant Superintendent Wade Smith."

Tough choice for Portland Public Schools’ voters: big budget woes, big tax hikes
Oregonian
"The Portland School Board’s decision, sealed last week, to put two tax hikes for schools before voters in May sets up a tough choice for residents of the state’s largest school district: Without the additional taxes, schools that are sorely outdated and patched together will get even more so, and hundreds of teaching jobs probably will be cut, boosting class sizes, slashing electives and putting experienced educators on the unemployment line."

Equality of love

Mailbag: We can’t get married
Democrat Herald
"Valentine’s Day is when couples declare and celebrate their love, and I’m so thankful that includes me. What would make it perfect would be if I could be married to the person I love. I’d do it in a heartbeat. But in Oregon we can’t because we’re lesbians. More and more Americans are thinking about allowing gay and lesbian couples to join in civil marriage. For our family, being married to Melissa would make it clear to everyone what we mean to each other, and our two kids."

Speaking from the heart
West Linn Tidings
"This Valentine’s Day, a West Linn couple is helping to put a face on the issue of marriage equality. A TV commercial featuring Roger and Jeannie Woehl will air on CNN Monday to foster a national conversation about who has the right to civil marriage. The 30-second commercial, which aired in Oregon last summer, features the stories of four couples — two gay and two straight — and their overall shared reason for wanting to marry: to commit for a lifetime to someone they love."

Marriage equality – a matter of the heart
Sockeye Blog
"JEANA FRAZZINI — Valentine’s Day is a time to reveal what’s in our hearts, to express our love for family, friends and that special someone. What better time to speak up for the Freedom to Marry? Here in Oregon, loving and committed gay and lesbian couples are excluded from marriage. That has real consequences for families who, like so many of us, weather the ups and downs of building a life together."

Tuition equity bill introduced

Immigration reform meeting draws hundreds
KEZI
"Close to 800 people showed up to a meeting in Eugene on immigration reform Thursday night.  The immigrant rights coalition, "Causa Oregon" is calling on local leaders to help them make changes to Oregon’s laws. They want to restore immigrant access to Oregon state driver’s licenses.  Also, create a policy to allow all students who have graduated from high school, or received their GED in Oregon, in-state tuition regardless of their status. ‘I’m really sorry that I am here illegally.  But I can’t help it. My mom wanted her daughter to have a better future,’ said Jessica Garcia."

Press release from the Oregon Student Association.

Other headlines

Taxpayers have right to know data on benefits
Statesman Journal
"Harbaugh is an open records crusader who was the first person to publish Oregon’s public records manual on the Internet, on his website openuporegon.com (http://openuporegon.com) . But as a public employee, Harbaugh is subject to having his salary and other information about his professional life made public. When we talked by phone, he was at an airport on his way to a Missouri economics conference, and he pointed out that his travel records for the trip he was on will be a matter of public record. ‘It feels a little weird, but at the same time people have the right to know what I’m doing with their money,’ he said."

Hotline helps uncover government waste
Statesman Journal
"Most folks groan when they hear true tales of government waste. Dale Bond wants to hear more. Bond manages the Government Waste Hotline maintained by the Oregon Secretary of State. The hotline has gathered tips of fraud, waste and abuse since 1995. Those tips are then passed on to auditors for investigation. Bond lives in West Salem, and has worked for the state for about 23 years. She’s been in charge of the hotline since 2006."

New poll shows strong support for ditching state tax breaks to save basic health
Slog
"Rep. Eileen Cody (D-West Seattle) recently introduced HB 1847, a bill that would eliminate about $245 million in special interest tax breaks in order to raise the money necessary to retain the state’s Basic Health Care Program. And a new poll (PDF) conducted last week on behalf of the Elder Care Alliance, shows pretty damn strong support."

Crackdown on predatory lending shows some success
OPB
"It’s been three years since Oregon’s legislature voted to crack down on predatory lending practices. Now, Oregon homebuyers are less likely to fall victim to bad loans. But the pain of the housing crash is still fresh. Oregon’s foreclosure rates have exploded. Realty Trac, which charts information about foreclosures for buyers and sellers, notes Oregon had just 6700 in 2006. Last year, that number rose to 36,000 homes. But market observers say the risk of getting into a bad mortgage today is vastly lower, in part because of the state rules."

Stacey drops out of race for vacant Metro seat
Portland Tribune
"Bob Stacey has withdrawn as a candidate to fill the vacancy on the Metro Council. In a Monday morning message to supporters, Stacey, a former executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon, says he will run for the District 6 seat in the 2012 election. The seat became vacant in January when Robert Liberty resigned to take a job with the University of Oregon. Stacey apparently is convinced the council will appoint former Gov. Barbara Roberts to fill the vacancy, perhaps as early as Wednesday."

EDITORIAL: Papering over the plastics problem
Oregonian
"Oregonians have always had a thing about litter. And a ban on plastic grocery checkout bags seems a natural extension of our pioneering bottle bill, volunteer beach cleanups and Keep Oregon Green ethos. But before the Legislature votes to make Oregon the first state in the nation to ban plastic checkout bags from grocers and some other retail outlets, we’d like to hear a better, fuller public debate on the issue than in evidence so far."

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