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Letters: State needs a bigger staff to collect taxes
In the Feb. 9 "Sources Say," you discussed the Oregon State budget deficit. Jody Wiser gave her opinion and the Cascade Policy Institute spokesman had his say. Both neglected to state the Oregon Department of Revenue is understaffed by 700 people, or 40 percent.
There is now more than $3 billion in taxes assessed and uncollected. No one knows the amount of tax that was not assessed because the law has not been properly enforced for 20 years. If these amounts were collected, the budget problem would be less severe.
Perhaps you could ask John Kitzhaber, Ted Kulongoski, Peter Courtney, Elizabeth Harchenko and Jim Bucholz why they have worked so hard to ensure the Department of Revenue has been understaffed.
Troubling sight in the Oval Office
I was troubled last week seeing the CEO of Intel in the Oval Office glowing with President Trump, while talking about finishing the creation of a plant in Arizona.
Intel (and many other businesses) already pay little to no taxes in many states, including Oregon. What was not mentioned were the recent layoffs in Oregon. Intel has a history of promising jobs in exchange for massive tax breaks and other benefits, then later issuing layoff notices, keeping skeleton crews here to ensure their assistances. The remainder of employees are laid off, jobs are shipped overseas to the Philippines and other low cost countries, and then are replaced with contract employees, who receive no benefits and are subject to release at will. It seems to me this shell game gives the president and CEOs great press, while the taxpayers pick up the bill, and employees lose jobs, benefits and stability. The elimination of regulations for these companies also hurts the public on environmental and safety issues. It impacts employment since it is not just regulations being done away with, it is the people doing these jobs. I do not feel the American pride in this.
Cuts first, then increase taxes
The "leadership" in the Oregon Legislature continues to talk about the "fact" we have a $1.8 billion deficit. They neglect to mention the fact we expect to have $1.3 billion more to spend.
Meanwhile, as we face this so-called budget crisis, the governor gave state union workers a 6 percent pay increase on top of cost-of-living adjustments and step increases they also intend to give. When you add the fact that we may do nothing about PERS reform, they have added over $500 million to the cost of government.
Before these legislators even ask us to consider any tax increases, we need to hear what planned spending is essential, possible adjustments to these already given increases, and what cuts they will be making to get to a balanced budget.
Help dyslexic students, whatever it takes
I can't believe I'm writing this: Betsy DeVos may be the only person who can save dyslexic children in Oregon.
One in five children cannot learn from the current reading instruction. Eighty percent of children referred to special ed are dyslexic.
But due to Whole-Language reading programs at the teachers' colleges, we have untrained teachers with little or no reading instruction tools. As a result, these kids have fallen through the cracks. DeVos will allow these kids to transfer to schools that have specialized instruction, where they can reach their potential.
Under DeVos, any child can get a voucher for a charter school. But, currently, we have few schools in Oregon that serve dyslexic children. Until all general education and special-education teachers receive the required training, our dyslexic kids will continue to fail.
Do we retrain our teachers and their professors to follow the National Reading Panel recommendations, or do we voucher all these kids to private schools? I vote for retraining, but after a decade of trying that, maybe vouchers are the only alternative.
DeVos would prefer private, religious charter schools. I vote for public, secular charter schools to take the lead.
If it takes a voucher program to get these kids the instruction they need, then so be it.
Another homeless camp in Kenton? Absurd
The idea of launching another homeless camp in my backyard is as inane as it is inconsiderate. The motives for locating the new squatters village in any area are dubious, but this one goes the extra mile.
This plan comes on the heels of a KGW broadcast Feb. 10 from downtown Portland. It seems a local advertising and creative firm decided to go public with what they witnessed each day. From their westside location they filmed homeless couples having sex, openly selling drugs, defecating and urinating, harassing and intimidating pedestrians and trespassing in their building. All this was in broad daylight. The reason they went public was because repeated efforts to inform elected officials went unanswered.
The film footage was very graphic.
To compound the folly, proponents of the Kenton project cite Hazelnut Grove "as a case study for the project." Hazelnut Grove? Really? That burgeoning trash heap and eyesore that grows uglier and more dangerous by the week? The location the citizens of the Overlook community have been complaining about since Portland sponsored the nightmare in their backyard?
Kenton Park is a wonderful oasis of recreation, sport, relaxation and picnicking. For decades it's attracted families and friends. By placing a city-sponsored homeless camp adjacent to the pristine Kenton Park ensures a devolving spiral for the neighborhood. The "camp" will (as other "camps" and studies have proven) attract more homeless and cause the people of Kenton anxiety, frustration and, ultimately, denigrate the park and the surrounding community.
Kenton has seen its share of difficult times over the past 50 years. However, the community now is tossing the blanket of malaise from its back. There is growth and excitement in the air. The potential of the neighborhood grows each month.