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Oregon Promise: About 6,000 students are attending college so far

Thursday, November 17, 2016

By Andrew Theen | The Oregonian/OregonLive 

One month into fall term, about 6,000 students across the state are taking community college classes through the Oregon Promise...

That headcount is right about what state officials anticipated for the first-year program, which helps defer tuition costs for eligible high school seniors who chose to attend community college…

As Oregon Promise students gear up for first year, some learn attendance isn’t free

..State lawmakers allocated $10 million for the program in 2015, enough to cover the cost of the program for the 2016-17 school year…

The program isn’t guaranteed to continue in perpetuity.  The higher education commission is asking for $34 million in the upcoming biennium…

We Respond & Your Comments

We’re not advocating for or against this program for “free community college.” But we do want to make a few points we hope readers will remember when they hear about new government programs:

  • Nothing is “Free” – Somebody pays for everything;
  • Spending always rises – Oregon Promise costs $10 million this year; for the next 2 years they want $34 million;
  • Look for perverse incentives – Here the incentive is to show less income. Google “lower your income to get college aid.” You’ll find loads of websites about how to do it. Some parents will find legal loopholes; some will under report income; some will work less to get more aid for their kids.

Decide for yourself whether this and other taxpayer funded programs are good or bad. But filter your thoughts through the advice above.


Oregon must contain the roaring PERS fire: Editorial Agenda 2016

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

By The Oregonian Editorial Board 

…The fiscal conflagration known as Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System will burn an extra $885 million in the next biennium to ensure retirees get their pensions and benefits as negotiated…

… Contributions by employers…are expected to go up by 4 percent of payroll in 2017, 2019 and 2021. That puts the employer contribution to the system at $4.5 billion for the 2021-23 biennium, more than twice what it is now…

But that’s to say nothing of the pressure upon public school systems, expected to find $335 million more to ship to PERS in the next biennium,..

…earnings on PERS investments last year were 2.11 percent, and this year through June just 1.24 percent — well below the unrealistic PERS-set expectation, upon which the system is configured, of 7.5 percent… [emphasis ours)

We Respond & Your Comments

PERS, and therefore Oregon taxpayers who pay for it, are in deep doodoo  – old news.

What we want to focus on today is the last paragraph (above), which tells us that PERS projections rest on an assumed 7.5 % rate of return. The only way to get that kind of assured return today is to take risks that are far beyond unacceptable for pensions. Zimbabwe sovereign debt, anyone?

Why can public pensions use Bernie Madoff-type returns in their projections? Because they’re doing it with your money. Meanwhile, according to Steve Malanga, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, private pension funds, those offered by companies, must project future earnings based on a “risk-free” rate – currently below 3 percent. (

Why the difference? Because private pension funds need to live up to their projections. Public pensions? They can just reach deeper into your pockets to meet shortfalls caused by their delusional forecasts.


Oregon Land Board Low-Balls Elliott Timber with Fixed-Price “Bidding”

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

By John A. Charles, Jr.

… the Oregon Department of State Lands announced the “fair market value” of 82,450 acres of Common School Trust Lands within the Elliott State Forest as $220.8 million. The number was picked by Roger Lord of the consulting firm Mason, Bruce & Girard after analyzing three different professional appraisals. Proceeds from the land transfer will go to the Common School Fund…

… the Director of the Department, Jim Paul, reiterated that anyone hoping to acquire the 82,450 acres must offer exactly $220.8 million. Any offer above that will be considered “outside the protocol” and deemed “non-responsive.”…

We Respond & Your Comments

Throughout 122 previous issues of Lane Solutions we’ve called your attention to a multitude of government absurdities. But never, ever, have we seen anything this absurd.

Here’s what the Dept. of State Lands is saying: “We’re selling Elliot Forest for $220.8 million. If you want to pay Oregonians one cent more – go fry ice.”

Is this how they’d sell their personal house, car, or even dog? Absolutely not. But it’s your money – so they just don’t care.

Remember this the next time these wizards whine about not having enough money for schools, affordable housing or whatever. Remember it the next time they want your money “for the children.” Most of all – remember it when you vote.


EDITORIAL: Facing a retirement crunch

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Register Guard

Americans employed in the private sector are pretty much on their own when it comes to financing retirement…A new program taking shape in Oregon will broaden those choices, and ultimately reduce the burden on public services…

…nationwide, 42 percent of full-time private-sector employees between the ages of 18 and 64 have no workplace retirement savings plan. In Oregon, about half have no access to a (sic) such a plan…

The Oregon Legislature confronted this problem in 2015 by creating the Oregon Retirement Savings Plan…The plan will be open to all workers whose employers do not offer a plan of their own. It will be administered by the Oregon Retirement Savings Board…

…Enrollment will be automatic — workers will participate unless they choose not to. No employer contribution will be required. The savings rate will be 5 percent, unless workers choose to contribute at a higher or lower rate. The money will go into Roth IRA accounts…

We Respond & Your Comments

And now… the Salem brainiacs who did such a great job with the Columbia River Crossing ($200 Million down the drain), Cover Oregon (another $300 million), and PERS (God only knows what a mess this is)…

Are lining up to manage…your retirement! Herewith the “Progressive” principles on which this coming disaster are based:

  • You’re too stupid to save for retirement;
  • You need government “experts” to do it for you;
  • Because you’re too stupid to sign up they’ll do that for you, too.

The timeless cliché comes to mind: “We’re from the government – we’re here to help you out.”

When you first notice that 5% of your paycheck is missing, just think “Columbia Crossing…Cover Oregon…MY RETIREMENT???” If you haven’t already opened an IRA this horror should be all the encouragement you need.


Governor Still Won’t Say Where She Stands on Proposed Tax Increase but Will Say How She’d Spend the $3 Billion…

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

By Nigel Jaquiss, Willamette Week

Gov. Kate Brown is playing coy on Initiative Petition 28, the proposed corporate tax increase that will raise $3 billion a year in new tax revenue.

Brown, a Democrat, has been close to the public employee unions backing the measure for her 25-year political career—but she has repeatedly declined to take a position on the measure…

Today, Brown issued a page-and-a-half “Corporate Tax Implementation Plan” for the measure, suggesting ways the revenue could be spent…

Here’s the spending part:

The plan endows a new Career Pathway Fund that supports significant expansion of career and technical education…
Increase the number of students who complete high school with an industry credential…

Expands the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Expands energy assistance programs for low-income consumers

And here’s Brown’s attempt to make the measure less painful for Oregon employers:

Allows businesses subject to IP-28 to subtract a portion of Oregon payroll costs from their annual corporate tax obligation.

Offers investment incentives through the Oregon Growth Fund that benefit Oregon businesses.

Brown also proposed a carve-out for software companies that are located in Oregon but have extensive sales in other states…

We Respond & Your Comments

Why hasn’t Guv Kate endorsed IP-28? Because today it’s positioned as a tax. But Kate’s spending plan is the first step in repositioning it as help for “the kids” and “the poor.” So anyone opposing the tax is anti kids and anti poor. Kate, compassionate Liberal that she is, will then jump on the 28 bandwagon.

Once IP-28 passes Kate’ll start choosing winners. They’ll inevitably be those who support…Kate and her Dems. Willamette Week (above) says she wants a carveout for software companies. This isn’t in Kate’s current spending plan, but don’t be surprised if it pops up. Then other companies will start giving money to slop up at the “Carveout Trough.”

And there’ll be “investment incentives through the Oregon Growth Fund.” Translated: Pro Katers will get IP-28 relief for dumping your bucks into the State fund that picks more winners (read “contributors”) to lard your bucks onto.

Liberals are always compassionate. They’re always for kids and poor folk. Because there just ain’t no end to the good you can do with somebody else’s money.







Thursday, May 19, 2016

AG Rosenblum and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Launch Managing Someone Else’s Money Guides for Oregonians

Free, Plain-language Guides Designed to Help Financial Caregivers Understand Their Fiduciary Duties
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today joined the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau (CFPB) to launch the CFPB’s Managing Someone Else’s Money, Oregon-specific guides for financial caregivers. The guides will help caregivers, particularly those who handle the finances of older Oregonians, carry out their duties and responsibilities in managing someone else’s money…

    – Democratic Party of Oregon Newsroom

We Respond & Your Comments

Taking financial advice from any “Progressive” Oregon official strikes us as about as crazy as taking medical advice from Dr. Kevorkian. Let’s review how Salem’s done “Managing Someone Else’s Money” – ours:

  • Cover Oregon losses – $300 million
  • Columbia River Crossing losses – $175 million
  • PERS investment losses, 2015 – $20 million

Then there’s the Oregon Energy Dept. – $20 million scorched in bad loans to green energy nutbars. Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler opines on this mess: “It’s in trouble.” Thank you, Captain Obvious. Yo, Ted – did it ever occur to you that these greenies only came to you because there wasn’t a bank in the world that would risk their own money on a loan to them?

So now Ted and his merry band in Salem want to teach us how to manage Gramma’s nest egg?


Oregon Lawmakers Consider Free Postage For Voting By Mail

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Chris Lehman, Northwest News Network

Voting in Oregon could get even easier — and cheaper. Lawmakers are considering a measure that would require the state to pay the postage when voters return their ballots through the mail…

This would let people return their ballots without stamps. The government would pick up the cost of postage.

Advocates, including the Oregon Bus Project, said millennials rarely mail anything and are often confused about where to buy stamps. They said having the state pay for postage would give younger voters more access to the polls.

The bill doesn’t have a price tag yet, but if every eligible voter took advantage of the offer, it would cost the state more than $1.2 million per election…

We Respond & Your Comments

Here it is, Dear Readers – Liberalism, Progressivism, Idiotism – whatever you want to call it – on steroids.

Look at the premises behind this latest act of Salem lunacy:

  • People are stupid – Despite the fact that there are ballot drop boxes scattered around like goose poop in Alton Baker Park, people are too darn dumb to find them;
  • Millennials, who can root out 200 micro-aggressions and 26 “Safe Zones” every day at every college, can’t figure out how to find a stamp and slap it on an envelope;
  • People aren’t responsible for returning their free ballots;
  • People are so irresponsible they’re glad to let “The Government” pay for it. Look, Stupid, it’s not “The Government.” It’s your neighbors.

This is just the latest, and maybe the stupidest example of how happy these Salem space cadets are to spread your money around.


Hats Off to Our County Commissioners!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

State of the County

Jay Bozievich January 4, 2016

…When the legislature passed PERS reform in 2013, our financial, legal and Human Resources staff recommended to the Board that we set aside the projected savings in a reserve account because of the potential for those reforms to be overturned in the courts. In addition, that same staff had bonded some of our PERS liability when interest rates were low and nearly fully funded our liability.

This higher level of funding directly impacts the rate that Lane County is charged to cover PERS expenses for our employees.

While other public employers in Oregon, with less than 80 percent of their PERS liability funded, saw their rates raise by as much as 6 percentage points in FY 15- 16, Lane County experienced an increase of just 1.8 percentage points for the same time period. If we had experienced a 6 percentage point increase, it would have cost Lane County an additional $3.3 million dollars annually.

This cost avoidance, along with the reserve set aside… provides greater financial stability for Lane County into the foreseeable future….

We Respond & Your Comments

Usually, asking politicians not to spend money is like putting a T-bone steak in front of your dog and asking him not to eat it ‘til tomorrow. But not so with our Lane County Commissioners!.

Please join us in giving a big round of applause to our County Commissioners for having the foresight to put money aside in case PERS reform turned sour – which it did.

It’s always easy to criticize government. So it’s important that when our elected leaders do the right thing to acknowledge it and thank them.

So – Jay, Pat, Sid, Faye & yes, Pete too – a big THANK YOU!


Pull plug on energy loans

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

 – The Eugene Register Guard

Oregon’s Small Scale Energy Loan Program started out as a neighborhood credit union, but somehow became Lehman Brothers. Gov. Kate Brown should immediately accept Treasurer Ted Wheeler’s recommendation that the program’s lending be suspended due to a $20 million deficit that will require a taxpayer bailout…

…SELP puttered smoothly along for decades after the voters approved its creation in 1980…It was designed to be self-supporting — the state would sell bonds, government agencies and private parties would borrow the money for small-scale energy-saving or energy-generating projects, and their loan payments would retire the bonds…

In recent years…SELP could be labeled the Enron of the state Department of Energy…SELP loaned $18 million for an ethanol plant in Clatskanie that went bankrupt…Other big loans also turned sour…

In a letter sent Thursday to Brown, Wheeler said that for the fiscal year that ended last June 30 the program had a “negative fund balance” of about $20 million. That means taxpayers will be on the hook for bond repayments…

We Respond & Your Comments

Way to go, Ted! Most “Progressives,” when faced with a failing government program, just double down on it. Ted’s right to call for sudden death for SELP.

SELP is a perfect example of why governments at all levels should stay out of the loan business. First, they don’t know how to assess risks. Banks do. When somebody comes to a government agency for a loan it’s because the banks wouldn’t touch his project with a Jedi lightsaber pike.

Second, banks have “skin in the game.” If too many loans go stinko somebody’s out of a job. Politicians play with your money, not their own. And their DNA tells them to use your money to buy themselves votes. So they lend your bucks for projects that’ll return votes for them and bigger tax bills to you.

Keep it up, Ted. And don’t let Gov. Kate cave to the Beaver State Greenies.


Congress Must Get to Bottom of Obamacare State Exchange Failures

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Alexander Hendrie,

Over the past four years, billions of dollars have been funneled from the federal government to states to construct Obamacare state operated healthcare exchanges. This money has not been well-spent. Several states have failed and others have misused hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds.

When Oregon announced it would become the first state to shutter its taxpayer-funded Obamacare exchange in early 2014, it was undoubtedly due to mismanagement…Perhaps worse, the Governor’s office was so determined to win reelection that it gave campaign consultants with zero IT or healthcare experience total control over Cover Oregon’s fate.

…there aren’t enough facts or answers two years after the ill-fated state-operated exchange launched.
$5.5 Billion Spent with Little Oversight

Taxpayers shelled out $305 million for the Oregon exchange, and $5.5 billion nationwide, yet strong oversight over the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from Congress has been lacking for years… While Oregon is the poster child of troubled Obamacare state exchanges, the list of failures is far beyond a single state and includes Hawaii, Vermont, Nevada, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maryland…

We Respond & Your Comments

Mr. Hendrie’s article is one of the best summations of Cover Oregon’s and Obamacare’s failures we’ve read.

Rightly concluding that these failures leave many unanswered questions, Hendrie calls for investigations.

Fine. You can convene 26 commissions, 17 committees, 54 Congressional hearings and a special prosecutor or two. But we’ll save you the time and money. Here’s the answer: government is not capable of running a one-size-fits all health insurance program for Oregon’s 3.97 million people – much less for 319 million Americans.

Government programs inevitably become politicized, whether it’s to ensure someone’s reelection (think Kitzhaber) or reward a favored contributor or industry (think Solyndra). So let’s just face reality and get government out of the health insurance business.