by Andrew Hillard
Ending Transit Welfare as We Know It
While some history lectures put people to sleep, TriMet’s past should wake you up.
In 1971, TriMet was subsidized $38 for every Tri-County citizen. Since then, this figure has increased sixfold. In 2009, TriMet received $231 per resident.
Not surprisingly, as subsidies go up, TriMet’s fare revenues have gone down. Last year, customer ticket sales only accounted for 17.8% of TriMet’s operating expenses.
How much does the government pay public employees? How much do various organizations and businesses spend on lobbying every year? TheOregonPolitico.com has just launched the GovDoc website committed to providing public records in an easily accessible digital format. Head over and take it for a test drive.
By Olivia Wolcott
Children Take Backseat to Union Dues
This summer, education funding and program cuts have had parents, teachers and voters clamoring for more money to pour into Oregon’s struggling public education system. The Oregon Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, claims that school budget cuts show voters and politicians don’t understand that educational reform and innovation come at a high price. However, the OEA has steadfastly opposed the educational innovation of cost-saving virtual charter schools. In fact, the union has called the crippling regulation of these online schools its “top priority.”
Don’t forget to reserve your spot for our Friedman dinner on July 30th. RSVP by July 24 to Deanne Kastine 503.242.0900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information visit the event homepage.
by Rebecca Steele
Green Investment Failure
Building “green” is all the rage in Portland. Eco-roofs and solar panels have become routine, and now the goal is for “net-zero” buildings that consume less energy or water than they produce.
However, while the idea is green, expect red. The City of Portland’s last attempt to promote net-zero construction ended in a subsidized spending spree.
In 2005, the Green Investment Fund was established as a competitive grant program, awarding money for five years to spur green building. Enormous government subsidies were required for most grantees. DaVinci Arts Middle School, the only project actually to achieve net-zero energy, was realized because of $500,000 in community-donated services. The June Key Delta House, a proposed net-zero community center, received over $400,000 in PDC grants and loans. The Blanchet House of Hospitality, also hoping for net-zero energy, is enabled by a PDC $2 million grant and land swap. Other subsidized Green Fund projects failed miserably. Construction never began on the million-dollar Shizen condominiums or the Kenton Living Building, both net-zero energy contenders.
PDC’s Seeds Unlikely to Grow
by Ben Shelton
You may remember Sam Adams’ February promise to give $500,000 to small businesses around Portland. Currently, a five-member board, appointed by the Portland Development Commission, is seeking an investment manager for the Portland Small Business Seed Fund. Public venture capital programs, however, don’t pay; they ignore real business solutions and starve money from the critical functions of government.
How much government is the right amount? A variety of studies have found that economic performance is at its greatest when the size of government is somewhere between 15 percent and 25 percent of gross domestic product. Right now, the U.S. government has a GDP of 40 percent—which is twice the optimal level for maximizing growth. The relationship between the size of government and economic growth is called the Rhan Curve, and is discussed further in the video below from Dan Mitchell at the Center for Freedom and Prosperity.
Two of Cascade’s research associates, Olivia Wolcott and Rebecca Steele, advocated fewer regulations and a more open enrollment rule for virtual charter schools, as part of an hour of public testimony heard by the board at the June 24 meeting.
State Board Continues Debating Virtual Charter School Enrollment Cap
by Olivia Wolcott and Christina Martin
On June 24, the Oregon State Board of Education met to further discuss agenda items including the issue of virtual charter schools. Virtual charter schools have been on the Board’s agenda since the legislature passed House Bill 3660 in February 2010. HB 3660 instructed the State Board of Education to “develop a proposed governance model for virtual public schools, including virtual public charter schools,” and “review the appropriate levels and methods of funding for virtual public schools, including virtual public charter schools” (HB 3660, Section 9.2). A work group met May 27 and prepared a “straw proposal” that the entire Board examined during the June 24 meeting.
Todd Wynn on Population’s
Check out Todd Wynn discussing the BP oil spill, energy policy, and climate change on Populations TV.
Special thanks to Populations. You can check out other interviews like this at http://www.populationsprogram.com/