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Reservations anyone?

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The Portland Development Commission (PDC) just rejected the only Convention Center hotel proposal that does not require government subsidies. All the other proposals depend on what the PDC calls, “some kind of public participation.” When private investors won’t risk their own money, taxpayers will likely take a bath. Look at PGE Park.

The Grand Ronde Indian Tribe said it could do the project with all private money if it were allowed to include a gambling casino. Tribal spokesman Justin Martin underscores the reason taxpayers should now worry about this project. He stated, “We thought we had a creative proposal to boost the economy. But without the governor’s approval (for an off-reservation casino), we just can’t make this pencil out.”

The Tribe also couldn’t get approval to privately pay for a Major League Baseball stadium in Portland because it also wanted to locate a casino in the area as part of that deal.

After the hotel proposal was nixed Martin said, “We refuse to raid taxpayer dollars for any project.” He could have added, “especially for hotels and ballparks which are not core functions of government.”

Multi-million dollar projects are privately funded all the time. Intel’s high tech plants and Nike World Headquarters are both excellent examples of this. Such facilities pay for themselves and benefit the community.

Oregonians are repeatedly told we need to pay higher taxes to fund basic public services. So, why does the PDC look to involve itself in yet another tax-draining project? Is it because:

A) The PDC needs to justify its existence?
B) The PDC is a proponent of corporate welfare?
C) This project is not financially feasible?
D) All of the above?

Steve Buckstein is senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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