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The Observer paper 12/26/14

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The City of Portland and Multnomah County are continuing to walk into murky waters every time they decide to raise taxes to businesses and pass the loot on to the school districts in the area.

THE LAST TIME we checked, public education was to be funded by the state general fund, local property taxes and federal dollars. So why do they keep getting away with raising taxes? And why are the business managers and owners continuing to accept the fate without crying foul?

And if it is an OK practice according to the state Supreme Court, then why aren't more cities, such as La Grande, and more counties, such as Union County, attempting to do the same thing?

ONE OF THE REASONS that businesses in the Portland metropolitan area continue to accept these taxes is that if they stand against them they will be branded anti-children. There is so much pressure on the part of the 3,700 teachers and unions in Portland to go along with this dual taxation that the last thing a business wants is to be branded as anti-education.

This can be devastating to a business of any size. Consider the effects of a strike on a business. Union employees once struck Fred Meyer, and it took the company two years to finally shake off the effects. Ask someone who has experienced a teachers strike. The teachers will picket the businesses of school board members; they will verbally abuse the children of board members and they do an incredible job of marshalling children and parents to strong-arm the public perception.

EVEN WITH THOSE kinds of tactics, Portland and Multnomah County are sending a message to business leaders that Portland and the county are not the best place to operate a business. Simply locate your business in one of the neighboring counties and cities and you won't have to worry about dual taxation.

Plus, as an added bonus you'll find school districts that are growing and have done a better job managing their finances. Mayor Vera Katz and County Chair Diane Linn are proving that poorly managed government should be rewarded no matter how bad they carry out business. They certainly see themselves in a noble cause to help financially strapped school districts.

WHEN A SCHOOL DISTRICT spends almost $35 million annually for the medical benefits of 3,700 employees and their families, it is out of step with the way private businesses must operate. The attitude of these two and the members of their respective commissions is why the average citizen has lost faith in government. Instead of bailing the school districts out, these leaders should be demanding that the districts correct their own problems and live within their current budgets.


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