Regarding your opinion that the "kicker" should be diverted to paying down the PERS pension debt, (Our opinion: Tough call crucial for easing PERS debt, Dec. 4) it seems to me this will not solve the problem. That only throws more money at it and then the debt will grow back. What needs to be done is to attack what is causing the deficit — the PERS benefits. That's the real "tough call" for the Legislature.
Enact paid family leave in Oregon
With guaranteed paid family and medical leave for everyone in Oregon, we can begin to create a culture that values healthy families as much as hard work. We can alleviate some of the stressors that come along with serious illness, birth or death.
Flowers are a bright spot in these often difficult times, but we can be doing more. For 103 years, our family flower shop has been helping our community celebrate or console loved ones as they move through life's stages. Flowers are appropriate no matter the occasion. They have the power to improve spirits even in our lowest times.
A robust family and medical leave insurance program is equally appropriate in many of these instances and has an even greater power to improve our well-being.
As a family operation, we are able to be flexible with our paid time off policy. I have had necessary time to care for my aging father and 96-year-old grandma. For years, I have had the opportunity to attend doctor appointments for both of them.
My daughter, Kimberly, gave birth to my granddaughter last year and was able to take the time she needed to learn how to be a mom and recover. She was able to ease back into the job, working part time at first. Now, she often brings her daughter with her to the shop. Family is the most important part of our business. I know this is incredibly rare.
I also know it doesn't have to be.
Trim teacher salaries at high end of pay scale
Portland School District pay practices have driven away new teachers, created a very short school year, led to large classes and constant demands for higher taxes. How? By overpaying a select group of teachers because they have seniority.
A crazy pyramid of 101 pay grades has resulted in crowding 910 teachers, or 27 percent, into the top pay grade of $85,646, or $117,000 with benefits. We do not need to pay this much for teachers to be competitive with private-sector salaries. Nor should we have to pay even more for a standard-length school year.
If the top salary were limited to $80,000, or $110,400 with benefits, the schools currently would be able to hire 40 additional new teachers, reduce class sizes, and pay thousands of dollars more to underpaid low-seniority teachers. I think that's enough to extend the school year to 200 days.
Simply put, for the money presently being spent, we should have more teachers, smaller class sizes and a longer school year.
Governor, oppose power grabs
I am writing regarding the recent political power grabs made by the GOP in Wisconsin. These actions are underhanded and do not serve our democracy. By concentrating power in the only partisan branch of government they can hold on to, they are undermining our system of checks and balances, the will of the voters, and our democracy itself.
The worst part about seeing this happening somewhere else in our country is the feeling of being powerless to stop it. I can't help but think that seeing this from afar has governors feeling the same way.
I know that Gov. Kate Brown can't do much, but since this is an attack on the executive branch, I thought maybe some kind of show of force is in order. With the Democrats picking up nine governor's seats in the new election, it might be worth writing a joint letter opposing such power grabs. It would at least feel like doing something to protest it.
I am fed up with the will of the people getting steamrolled in this country.
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