Oregon is facing a huge budget crisis. The state is $577 million short and Governor Kulongoski has announced that cuts will be made to all state-funded agencies. All these cuts come in light of many Oregonians failing to pay their fair share of taxes.
Oregon is facing a huge budget crisis. The state is $577 million short and Governor Kulongoski has announced that cuts will be made to all state-funded agencies. All these cuts come in light of many Oregonians failing to pay their fair share of taxes. Oregon may soon face the realization that you get what you pay for.
The impact on Portland State will be $5 million in cuts, according to University President Wim Wiewel, who sent out an e-mail relaying Governor Kulongoski’s message asking for pay freezes.
Presumably, there will be more furlough days, such as the ones PSU experienced in December. Tuition seems to be on a continuous climb towards being completely unaffordable, so a raise in costs would be irritating but not unexpected. Overall, low pay at PSU leads to lower quality instruction and bigger classes.
K–12 education is going to be impacted as well. Schools will see a $232 million cut from their budgets. David Williams, government relations director for Portland Public Schools, told The Oregonian that these cuts could mean less school days and bigger class sizes.
This recession is taking a big toll on Oregon’s struggling economy, but cutting education funding is like shooting yourself in the foot, or maybe even the leg. Sure, in the short term it helps to balance the budget, but in the long term cuts in education negatively impact the future workforce and therefore the success of Oregon’s future.
Future generations that are poorly or undereducated will not bring jobs and companies to Oregon and bring the economy up. The Oregonian recently reported that one-third of Oregon high school students don’t graduate on time. This sadly shows that Oregon desperately cannot afford to cut education funding and in fact increases seem to be in order. An educated workforce is the only force that has the power to permanently end recessions.
The folks in Salem could hold a special budget session in an attempt to shuffle the money around, and perhaps increase taxes, but no such session is on the books yet. By law, the governor must distribute cuts across the board. Some legislators might be hoping for a chunk of federal money allocated for troubled states like Oregon, but as of now this is all speculation.
Amidst the giant financial headache, The Oregonian uncovered that Oregon is owed around $2 billion by its citizens in unpaid taxes. The state has had trouble finding and collecting the money in the past. It is a complicated bureaucratic process that costs the state money and these people who owe the government money obviously don’t want to be found.
Paying taxes isn’t anyone’s idea of a great time. We don’t look at our pay stubs and say, “Oh, good. I gave away some hard-earned money.” But for people to just not pay their taxes is selfish, irresponsible and short sighted. Being in disagreement with certain decisions made by lawmakers is usually an excuse these tax evaders give as to why they don’t need to pay up. But a successful society is not about individual preferences, it is about community.
The state and federal governments offer services that we all use and would dearly miss if no one paid taxes. Education, law enforcement, roads, bridges, emergency services and defense, among many other offerings, are not basic American rights that cost nothing. They are expensive and necessary in order for quality of life. It is extremely doubtful that Oregonian tax evaders don’t use any of these services, though I suspect they might try to tell you otherwise. If everyone paid their fair share, it follows that the amounts we all pay would be lower. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Oregon’s budget problem will affect everyone. We need to stand together to help our lovely state move up and out of the recession. Education needs to be a priority and everyone needs to pay their fair share.