19 Jul 2010, 10:50am
by admin

Oregon deserves better than a jobless recovery

Note: This Guest Comment first ran in the Salem Statesman Journal [here]. Posted by permission of the author, a stalwart voice for Oregon forests and active management.

By Bill J.Kluting

These were the backbone of Oregon’s industrial work sector who were the primary state, county and city taxpayers. During the 1980 recession, our industrial facilities and jobs were still in place; and when these workers returned from layoffs or curtailed hours, Oregon had no problem pulling out of the recession.

Oregon’s unemployed number more than 200,000. One out of five Oregonians is receiving food stamps. Oregon is the third-highest for home foreclosures. Oregon needs to put 150,000 people back to work earning decent wages now. We can’t wait three to four years as some experts project for a jobless recovery.

We’re projected to have a $2 billion to $4 billion revenue shortfall for the next state budget. Oregon has become a welfare state. We are waiting in line for additional monies from the federal government for schools and human services. Our federal government can’t afford to keep financing states that can’t control their wasteful spending.

This state needs to look at restructuring our K-12 school financing. Too much is wasted at the administrative levels and not getting to the classroom.

Oregon is in the top five in the nation for cost per student and bottom five for graduating high school seniors. This has to change and our re-elected superintendent of schools and elected legislators have to find a solution. We need to dismantle the 21 education service districts and form a group of six to do the same job more efficiently. Do these two things alone and you’re saving a half billion dollars that could go directly to the classroom.

This state has to look at every agency, see what they do, eliminate the ones not necessary and phase out positions where not needed. Bring the costs of the health and retirement plans down to the national average. Cut the waste of our tax dollars. Until Oregon’s revenue problem goes away (which is years down the road, if ever), these things have to be done.

Almost half of Oregon’s counties will be losing the O&C federal timber monies they have received through the years, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, causing some counties to become bankrupt. This problem could be solved by having a national forest management plan that allows an annual sustainable harvest, creating thousands of jobs and revenue.

The first step to put Oregon back to work is to form a task force of business and labor folks to form ideas to create jobs and make sure our elected officials understand this needs to be done and done now.

We need to start the new Interstate 5 bridge and build the new mental hospital at Junction City. We need the new ocean cargo container facility and LNG plant in Coos Bay. These projects alone will create tens of thousands of new jobs.

Again, Oregonians deserve better than a jobless recovery. The only recovery plan that will work is to put unemployed Oregonians back to work now.

Bill J. Kluting of Monmouth worked in the timber and milling industry for 39 years. He represents the Carpenters Industrial Council as legislative affairs representative



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