EDUCATION MUST BE OUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY
Let’s meet the needs of the future by transforming our education system. We need to focus on increasing graduation rates and preparing Oregon children for a lifetime of success.
Salem is failing our children. Oregon’s K-12 education system is among the worst, ranking 47th out 50 states nationwide. Oregon will never reach its full potential if we continue to leave our kids behind.
Education has the power to break the cycle of generational poverty in our state and we have a responsibility to give our kids every chance to thrive. We can dramatically increase our K-12 educational system by implementing some of the following common sense reforms:
- Focus on parent, family and community engagement.
- Connect math to practical applications.
- Engage students through creative problem solving.
- Provide career and technical education options.
- Introduce career pathways early, connect students to employers.
- Support student leadership and entrepreneurship.
- Integrate financial management skills into project based learning.
- Implement trauma-informed practices in school.
We need a tax structure that will encourage prosperity, job creation, and a more resilient economy.
A well designed tax structure should accomplish to two main objectives: (1) generate a steady stream of revenue to support essential government services; and (2) encourage investment behavior that supports a healthy and diverse economy.
Despite record tax revenue, Oregon is struggling to balance its budget and properly fund vital services. Many state programs are not economically viable and put undue stress on our budget. Before we consider tax increases, we need to take a closer look at how our tax dollars are currently being spent.
We need to protect our state economy from being smothered by a tax structure that is driven mainly by our desire for more revenue and focus on strategic investments that grow our economy and create good paying jobs.
As the next Oregon State Senator from District 3, I will help reform Oregon’s tax structure to better encourage prosperity and help us build a more resilient economy by:
- Keeping the tax burden low so small businesses can continue to grow our economy and create jobs.
- Expanding opportunities for small businesses to reinvest in infrastructure, real estate, and human capital.
- Streamlining state government so that our communities can keep more of their resources local.
- Promoting economic diversification in our rural communities.
SOLVING THE PERS CRISIS
Let’s address Oregon’s ballooning Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) costs and begin buying down PERS debt before it’s too late. PERS cost increases are crowding essential resources for other vital public services, such as education, health care, and social safety net programs for at-risk families.
The $25.3 billion PERS unfunded liability is a problem Salem can no longer afford to ignore. Our school districts and local governments face extraordinary operational cost increases, driven by the need to finance PERS debt accumulated from years of paying out excessive PERS benefits.
We need to find creative solutions to the PERS crisis that: (1) reduce costs; (2) are legal; and (3) honor the promises we’ve made to our teachers and other public employees. I will begin working on solving the PERS crisis on day one.
PERS Realignment Strategy Part 1: Implement a voluntary Accelerated Disbursement Option (ADO) Program for those retirees already receiving or scheduled to receive PERS benefits.
Here is how it works:
For a period of time, those receiving, or about to receive, retirement benefits will be given the option to receive a one-time cash disbursement in place of monthly benefits. The collective disbursements will be funded by a bond measure that will be amortized over a period of thirty years, which will allow more cash to remain in PERS, and, in effect, amortize a portion of the PERS debt over a thirty-year period at a lower interest rate than the interest earned by PERS Investments. If the beneficiary chooses, they can roll over some or all of their disbursement into their own 401K plan or investment of their choice, thereby reducing or eliminating their tax liability.
- The advantage of this program to the beneficiary is immediate access to their retirement benefits and the flexibility to invest those benefits in a way that is best for them.
- The advantage to the State is that it will be able to meet its obligations to PERS beneficiaries, increase funding levels in PERS investments and amortize a portion of the unfunded liability over an extended time period.
PERS Realignment Strategy Part 2: Implement policy adjustments to the existing PERS structure in order to strengthen the retirement system for future retirees.
- Move all elected officials and judges to a 401K program.
- Disallow future use of unused vacation and sick leave as part of final average salary (FAS) when calculating an employee’s PERS benefit.
- Calculate final average salary (FAS) over the last 10 years instead of 3 years.
- Reduce the annuitization rate for Money Match from 7.5% to 3.5% (or market rate).
- Cap the final average salary (FAS) calculation at $100,000.00 per year