Corporate tax: Dueling PACs raise millions
By Gordon Friedman, Statesman Journal
Two groups campaigning on opposite sides of a ballot measure that would increase corporate taxes have raised millions of dollars ahead of the Nov. 8 election.
The proposed tax, called Measure 97, would create a 2.5 percent tax on sales exceeding $25 million for some corporations.
Our Oregon, the group supporting the tax, has raised $1.5 million so far. The money is from just two donations of $750,000 each by the Oregon Education Association and SEIU Local 503, the state’s largest public sector unions…
Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat with longstanding ties to public sector labor groups, endorsed the measure last week…
We Respond & Your Comments
Were we less cynical we’d think the Oregon education Association (OEA) and the SEIU were dumping big bucks into Measure 97 because they want to buy more crayons and PCs for our kiddies.
But OEA and SEIU are unions, not child welfare agencies. Their mandate is to grab more money for their members, not do nice stuff for children. They’re behind Measure 97 because they know it’ll line their union members’ pockets. Period.
And Guv Kate’s with them because she knows a boatload of Measure 97 loot will be find its way into her 2018 campaign coffers.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Editorial: Sales tax is a reach too far
‘Public employees unions run the statehouse,’ said state Rep. Dennis Richardson, during a 2014 visit to Astoria…
Now the public employees unions are asserting themselves grandly with Initiative Petition 28, the initiative to establish a corporate sales tax on corporations with gross receipts of more than $25 million annually…
The most correct title for the measure is the PERS Bailout Tax. Financial demands of the Public Employees Retirement System will soon increase the load on school districts and municipalities — causing schools to lay off teachers in order to fund retirement pensions.
Legislative remedies to the PERS dilemma …were thrown out by the Oregon Supreme Court. In the face of the court’s judgment, there was a proposal to require new PERS enrollees to contribute to their retirement, in the manner that is common in the private sector. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown would not support that.
Revenue raised by IP 28 is the unions’ answer to the PERS problem…
We Respond & Your Comments
We’re shocked! Shocked! When “Progressives” first tossed IP 28 on the table The Oregonian reported “Unions and other left-of-center groups argue that major tax hikes on major corporations and the wealthy are needed to shore up education and other public services…”
We thought IP 28 was “for the children.” After all, isn’t any tax? We thought it would buy smaller class sizes, music education and other good stuff. And now we learn it’s really for pensions for public employees? How sad.
Actually, we’re not that stupid. We knew all along IP 28 is a way for “Public Servants” to serve themselves the money you earned.
Editorial: It pays to be a state employee
Most Oregonians who buy their own health insurance policies may pay significantly higher monthly premiums next year. The highest proposed average increase in premiums is 32 percent and the lowest was just over 14 percent.
Many state employees face a similar problem with increasing costs of health care…
We Respond & Your Comments
But Oregon state employees aren’t like us. They won’t be hit with a 14%, or even a 4% premium increase. Because, thanks to their BFFs in the Legislature, their increases are capped at 3.4%. Nice gig, huh?
Were we cynics we’d think maybe their sweet deal is somehow related to the fact that in the 2015-16 election cycle Oregon public employee unions tossed $264,925 into political campaigns. If Oregon follows national averages, 86% of this loot went to Democrats, who control the Legislature.
Here’s the takeaway:
- Your taxes pay public employees’ salaries
- Public employers withhold money from these salaries for union dues
- Unions spend the dues to elect Democrats
- Democrats then bargain with the same unions over salaries and benefits
And the beat goes on. Who wins? Democrats and public unions. Who loses? Look in the mirror.
Yes, a nice gig indeed.
Oregon’s Highest Paid Union Bosses
– Catalina Gaitan, GoLocalPDX Contributor
In the midst of a national decline, membership in Oregon’s labor unions is on the rise. Moreover, while membership is thriving, so are the salaries of some of the state’s largest union leaders – many of whom are making six-figure salaries, or double or triple the average salary of the workers they are paid to represent.
Ten leaders of the state’s largest union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), are receiving more than $100,000 annually. Similarly, Oregon’s chapter of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) also has 10 leaders earning six-figures, despite having fewer than half the members and significantly less financial assets of their peer union, SEIU.
“They get those salaries because they can,” said senior policy analyst Steve Buckstein of the Cascade Policy Institute, a free-market think-tank based in Oregon. “…
We Respond & Your Comments
We aren’t in the habit of criticizing people for making as much money they legally can. But we do raise our eyebrows when they make it by snatching it from somebody else’s wallet. And that’s what union bosses do – you want a union job, you’re forced to pay them union dues.
Ever heard “Progressives” whine that “CEO’s make a bazzilion times the salary of a janitor in their companies?” Let’s look at some of the salary disparities you’ll never them whine, moan and bedwet about:
- Union bosses’ salaries compared to average workers’ pay;
- Liberal late night TV comedians’ appearance fees compared to what the janitors make;
- Aging pop stars’ salaries compared to what the concert ticket taker gets;
- Liberal movie stars’ checks compared to what an “extra” takes home.
Could it be that union bosses, late night comedians, aging pop singers and liberal movie stars all cough up big bucks for Democrats? Just wondering.
Editors’ Note: You’ll never, ever hear them even mention (let alone criticize) Chelsea Clinton’s $600,000 salary at NBC, either.
Living Wage’ Laws Are Union Lifesavers
– MAXFORD NElSEN
Labor activists across the country are pressing local jurisdictions to dramatically raise the minimum wage. They argue that this is necessary to help workers escape poverty. Often, however, so-called living-wage laws are really devices to revive unions.
Los Angeles became the latest to join the movement when the city council approved a law on Sept. 24 requiring large hotels to pay employees at least $15.37 per hour and provide generous paid sick-leave benefits. But the ordinance includes a provision…that permits unions to waive the requirements in collective bargaining.
This waiver enables labor organizers to approach a nonunion employer struggling to pay the new minimum with the following offer: assist them in unionizing employees by signing a “neutrality agreement,” in return for which the union will use the collective-bargaining waiver to allow the employer to pay less than the new statutory minimum.
While the details of each neutrality agreement vary, they typically obligate the employer to remain silent on the unionization effort, provide union organizers with employees’ personal contact information, and waive the employees’ right to a secret-ballot election administered by the National Labor Relations Board…
We Respond & Your Comments
Here we go again – another cynical, self-serving union maneuver tarted up as “compassion.”
The unions plead “Just pay these poor souls the ‘living wage’ they deserve so that they can feed their families.”
What they really mean is “Pass a law mandating a ‘living wage’ so we can use it to bludgeon non-union employers into unionizing their businesses by offering them an exemption from it.”
Long Beach, CA, Milwaukee and Seattle recently succumbed to this scam. Could Eugene be far behind?
Wage & Price Controls – That’s the Ticket!
A union representing health care workers on Monday filed five ballot measures with the Secretary of State’s office targeting hospital pricing, executive salary and transparency.
Local 49 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) filed the measures for the November 2014ballot after years of trying to make progress in the Legislature…
The ballot measures cover separate topics:
Executive compensation caps limiting hospital chief executive salary to 15 times the salary of the lowest-paid employee…
Price limits for larger hospitals…
The Oregonian, October 22, 2013
Lane Solutions Responds and Your Comments
We don’t often tip our hats to the SEIU, but today we just can’t resist it.
Because it takes special gall, guts, chutzpah or whatever you call it to ask Oregonians to vote for a measure whose backer has absolutely no intention of applying to himself.
The SEIU wants hospital CEO salary limited to 15 times the salary of, say, a dishwasher or janitor working there. Sounds good – right? It’s just so “fair.”
So, what does the SEIU pay its CEO? Former chief Andy Stern pulled down a cool $306,388 all in. Poor Mary Kay Henry, his replacement, is forced to live on only $256,065. Do you suppose that the lowest paid janitor or window washer whose dues fuel these salaries make one fifteenth of these amounts? That would be $20,426 of Handy Andy’s loot and $17,071 of Poor Mary Kay’s.
And did you notice that Poor Mary Kay’s salary is $50,000 less than Andy’s? Maybe she needs a union to fight for “equal pay for equal work?”
And did we mention that the SEIU, that tireless champion of equal pay, has nine union headquarters sub-bosses banking more than $200,000 per year?
Then there’s the measure to put price controls on “larger” hospitals. Larger than what? MASH units? Yeah – price controls are turning Cuba and Venezuela into economic power houses. Remember gas lines?
Gov. Kitzhaber’s Guide to Cost Cutting
SALEM, Ore. — Gov. John Kitzhaber has signed a bill he hopes will curb the state’s prison population. Kitzhaber signed the measure during a ceremony in his office Thursday, flanked by district attorneys and sheriffs. Among other things, the measure reduces sentences for certain drug and property crimes and driving with a suspended license. It’s projected to keep the prison population flat for about five years. Kitzhaber sought to limit prison growth for a decade, but he made concessions to win support from the law-enforcement community.- Associated Press
Lane Solutions Responds…
Congrats to Guv Kitzhaber for finding the golden key to cutting costs. Want to save money on prisons? Presto – Cut the punishment for crimes. Maybe we can save money on the Oregon Highway Patrol by raising the speed limit to 95 MPH. Save hospital costs by treating all strokes and heart attacks as outpatient cases?
Here’s what we won’t do to save money on prisons: Ask why, of the 14 states with populations of 2 to 5 million, 10 spend less per inmate than Oregon and 9 of those are right-to-work states. 3 of the 4 that spend more are, like Oregon, forced-union states.
Nor will we ask why Oregon entry level correctional officials pocket 24% more annual take home pay than nearby states’ officials.
Heaven forbid that we ask why, in the Oregon Legislative Fiscal Office study of Oregon and 11 surrounding states, Oregon was the only state in the sample which paid the entire employee contributions to the retirement plan and health insurance premiums.
We conclude that it’s just easier to turn criminals loose on Oregonians than rein in unions.
Demand action on PERS reform
By Rep. Kevin Cameron (R-Salem)
There have been nearly 50 bills introduced that address, in some way, the PERS issue. So far, there has been no substantial legislation that has received a hearing. I am co-sponsoring the below four bills that were introduced by Rep. Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg).
HB 3056 would limit the computation of “final average salary” to salary, rather than including unused sick time and vacation accruals.
HB 3057 would limit the COLA for PERS benefits to the first $36,000 of retirement income.
HB 3058 phases out the ability of employers to “pick-up” the employee’s 6% contribution into retirement accounts by 2020.
HB 3059 ends the practice of providing a supplemental benefit payment to offset income taxes for those who are not subject to Oregon income taxes.
It is my understanding that estimates of savings after instituting these reforms would be over $700 million per biennium. These alterations to the current process are important steps in the right direction to put PERS on sustainable footing for the future.
This is not a conversation about the worthiness of our public employees. It is a conversation about the absolute proven unsustainability of this retirement system. These bills deserve the opportunity to be heard, at the very least, in order to begin meaningful dialogue about how we are going to address this important issue in our state. The impact that it is having to our school districts and local government budgets is devastating and hurting our kids, our seniors, our social service agencies, and public safety. We must do better.
Reprinted with permission from Oregon Catalyst
Could Bigger PERS Payments Mean Fewer Teachers in Lane Co.?
Recently a highly placed official with Eugene 4J Public Schools spoke off the record with a member of Lane Solutions’ editorial staff. He revealed to us the cold, hard facts about the coming mandated increase in Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) payments and their effects on Eugene students.
During the coming biennium, mandated PERS payments by Eugene 4J will increase by 6.55%, or about $4,900,000 per year. By State law this, plus current PERS payments, must be made first. In other words, before 4J hires one more teacher, buys one new textbook, or makes one new computer available to our children, it must pay this additional amount into employee retirement.
So, what will this increase cost our children? Plenty. According to this official, a teacher costs 4J about $95,000 per year. Each one percent increase in PERS payments costs about $750,000 per year. So every one percent increase in PERS payments means that our children lose almost eight teachers!
The cost of a 6.55% PERS increase? The possible loss of nearly 52 teachers! The result – more kids per class and less education.
Should the PERS increase be covered by teacher layoffs, who will lose his or her job? Thanks to union rules seniority trumps teaching ability, performance and results. So the last hired become the first fired. This means that less expensive teachers are the first to go. A first year teacher costs about $32,000 less than a teacher with 20 years seniority, or about $63,000 per year. If all the layoffs come from this group, 4J will have to lay off 78 teachers!
In previous issues of Lane Solutions readers have learned how PERS rules and disputes concerning them are both made and adjudicated by the very State officials who profit from their own decisions, thus stacking the deck against taxpayers.
One result of this stacked deck is that PERS retirees are compensated for Oregon income taxes they must pay on their PERS income – even if they live elsewhere and therefore don’t pay Oregon income taxes. That’s right – a PERS retiree living in Delaware gets money from Oregon taxpayers for the Oregon income taxes he or she doesn’t pay!
The 4J official who revealed for our readers the true cost of PERS increases concluded the interview with some even more disturbing news: The increase in health insurance premiums is even larger than the PERS increase, and so may result in even more teacher layoffs. But more about that in a future issue of Lane Solutions.
Voters Want State Government Reform
Polling in 10 states shows that Americans want politicians to cut spending and reduce public employee benefits before they raise taxes.
Americans believe that bold action to restrict spending is necessary to stabilize the finances of state government.
Last month, in a wide-ranging national survey of 1,000 randomly selected, registered voters, and in 10 polls in individual states each with 400 respondents, my polling company found that voters strongly favor measures to pare the compensation of current and future public employees. They strongly oppose higher taxes.
Specifically, over three-quarters (78%) say their state faced a budget crisis this year, and 68% say that the crisis was resolved with spending cuts. Overwhelmingly they blame politicians for creating and exacerbating the problems: 48% say “elected state officials made careless and self-serving decisions,” while only 6% say “state governments did not tax enough.”
The top priorities for resolving current fiscal issues are to cut government spending (47%) and to ask for greater sacrifice from current public employees, by having them contribute more towards their benefits (31%). By almost two-to-one, they think that current public employees should have to contribute more toward their pension benefits because of budget problems.