Letters: Girl Scouts promotes STEM leadership
I read with interest your Aug. 16 article about "Nurturing women in tech fields."
As a mathematician and the mother of a female engineer, this is a topic of great importance to me. However, I want to correct an omission in the list of organizations supporting girls in technology. Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) and our local council, Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington (GSOSW) — where I serve as a board member — provide significant programming to support girls and young women in STEM learning.
Nationally, Girl Scouts has a multiyear STEM Pledge aimed at raising $70 million with the goal of putting 2.5 million girls through hands-on STEM programs by 2025.
Locally, GSOSW celebrated STEM month earlier this year, in April. STEM month featured Earth Day service projects throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington and more than 20 STEM activities and workshops.
This fall, local Girl Scouts can choose from more than 85 STEM-related activities, and participate in new Cybersecurity and Space Science badges.
I applaud the Portland Tribune for identifying the need to nurture women in technology. Girl Scouts has long recognized that girls are seriously underrepresented in STEM and that there is a lack of mentors and role models in those areas. That's why Girl Scouts is committed to inspiring girls and providing opportunities for them to develop into successful leaders in STEM.
Revamp property tax system
In reflecting on Daniel Hauser's conclusion in his My View ("Property tax limits weaken state services," Aug. 8), namely that we must improve our property tax system if local governments are to equitably serve needs, we could, in fact, do so while unleashing a powerful economic tiger: the principle driving enterprise zones.
Enterprise zones abate taxes on improvements to encourage capital investment and new jobs. The temporary loss in tax revenue is recaptured after three to five years, when the businesses usually develop further, paying taxes on improvements and higher land values from public investment in roads and infrastructure and from up-zoned parcels.
What if the entire city's property tax rate on improvements were similarly cut, while capturing rising land values at a revenue-neutral higher rate?
It works so well that almost 20 cities in Pennsylvania and two Hawaiian counties have enjoyed "incentive taxation" for decades; in recent years, Connecticut and Virginia have adopted this enterprise zone model for their property taxes.
Our first step toward a permanent fix to the inequities of Measures 5 and 50 limits is to reintroduce true market prices to property assessments, then enable substantial homestead exemptions to bridge the economic distortions from assessed values, adopt budget limitations as Washington has done to manage revenues, and begin to phase in lower rates on buildings while compensating with higher rates on land values.
This will help put vacant and underused sites in commercial areas to higher and better uses. More jobs and economic expansion will follow.