2016 Ballot Measure Endorsements
Oregon’s schools are suffering mightily from inadequate funding. This year we can do something about it by voting Yes on Measure 97.
Recent reports have sounded the alarm on how students are losing access to school nurses, spending fewer days in class and going to school in facilities that expose all of us to lead, radon, asthma triggers and seismic risk. Our class sizes are the third largest in the country. Simply put, we are not putting kids in a position to take their best shot at success.
Classified school employees have seen our hours cut (a pay reduction often coupled with losing eligibility for health insurance benefits). We are all too keenly aware that inadequate staffing is putting us and our most vulnerable students at risk.
Meanwhile, the biggest corporations doing business in our state enjoy the lowest corporate taxes in the country. Corporate giants such as Comcast and Bank of America export profits out-of-state while contributing very little to education, health care and senior services. In fact, most corporations pay the bare minimum corporate tax.
Measure 97 would right this inequity by raising the corporate minimum tax to 2.5 percent on sales above $25 million. If this measure passes, big business will finally have to pay their fair share like they do in other states. And because 82 cents of every dollar will come from out-of-state corporations, Measure 97 will level the playing field between big corporations and Oregon’s small businesses.
Don’t believe the opposition’s hype. For example, grocery store advertisements reveal no difference in prices between Oregon and states that are already collecting their fair share from big business. Small businesses will be in a better position to compete, keeping consumer dollars circulating here in Oregon instead of lining pockets on Wall Street.
Critical investments in schools, health care and senior services are long overdue. Passing Measure 97 will go a long way toward ensuring a better Oregon for all of us.
Not so long ago, shop and other vocational classes were common in our high schools. These have become scarce in recent years. At the same time, Oregon’s employers have trouble finding skilled workers to fill good jobs paying $25-35 per hour or more: jobs like welding, carpentry, computer coding and advanced manufacturing, just to name a few.
Students should have more options than simply attending college or entering the workforce with a high school diploma and little career-oriented skills — that is, if they graduate high school at all. Measure 98 is aimed at providing opportunities for all students to learn occupational skills that will improve their chances of success.
That’s not the only way Measure 98 helps high school students. It also would create access to co-enrollment courses with community colleges along with advanced placement courses. Students could earn up to a year’s worth of college credits before they graduate high school. It will save students thousands of dollars in tuition and gives them a real head start heading to college.
These important aims have been shown to improve chances of student success. Providing career and technical education options boosts graduation rates by an average of 15 points. Oregon has one of the highest high school dropout rates in the nation, and Measure 98 will help erase this embarrassing distinction.
For students who want to go to college, the co-enrollment courses set the stage for a successful transition. Students in schools with existing college partnerships enroll in higher education institutions at a higher rate and are more likely to stick with it during that critical first year.
Measure 98 accomplishes a lot, all using new revenue that doesn’t take money away from other education programs. It’s the right thing for our schools and our students. That’s why OSEA is endorsing Yes on 98.