Oregon Business Agenda: Give Some Authority Back to Counties

Rural Oregon, especially eastern Oregon, is experiencing some serious economic hardship. These areas feel quite neglected from the state and have been pretty vocal about it. Does Governor Kate Brown acknowledge that? Who knows? Maybe she did and nobody covered it. But until that’s something to be proven, we have to assume that she did not. Why should we care? It’s just farm land and whatnot, right? Rural Oregon, believe it or not, still brings in a good amount of money to the state. Eastern Oregon has been considering joining Idaho and Idaho doesn’t have a problem with that.

As I mentioned in the last article, I have an agenda for Oregon’s businesses that I believe will help turn our economy back around and help Oregon get back on its feet. There’s still time to kick start this recovery. I firmly believe that a big start is allowing the counties to make deicisions about labor for themselves.

NOTE: This article is part of a series that outlines a common sense agenda for the benefit of all Oregonians.

The Agenda

  • More taxpayers, not more taxes
    • Sensible business tax reform
  • Give some authority back to counties
  • Increase tourism interest
  • Educate Oregonians right

Giving Authority Back to Counties

Most people tend to not understand what an Oregon election map by county looks like. In case you didn’t take a look at the link, it’s a few blue counties engulfed in red counties. Yet, fewer than five blue counties hold most of the state’s voting power. To me, it doesn’t feel right when two-thirds of the state wants to be annexed by Idaho because it feels cheated by its capitol.

Part of the point of having states is to have nations within a nation. No matter how big the federal government gets, it still can’t effectively govern a nation as big as the United States. Interestingly enough, states realize that a similar thing went on within their own states and created, if you will, states within states. This way, groups of cities can get the governing power they would like to have. But what’s the point of having a county if it has virtually no power?

Economic Growth by County

This is where giving power back to counties comes in. We have fewer manufacturing jobs in America thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Some are still around, but they’re in right-to-work states. Boeing is an example of manufacturing being in a union-forced state and right-to-work states. Why didn’t the Dreamliner get built in Seattle like they originally planned? Because the forced unions pressured the company and it didn’t like it.

I say that it’s about time that we got rid of forced unionization. I say that the counties should have a vote on deciding whether or not they are right-to-work counties. If Portland doesn’t like it, then Multnomah County can vote against it. If Clackamas loves the idea of a right-to-work county, then Clackamas County can vote for it. If a manufacturing plant were put into Clackamas County after that, then the unemployed in Multnomah County can work in Clackamas County.

Manufacturing in Rural Counties

What if manufacturing jobs made a comeback into rural Oregon? The cities would get bigger, that’s for sure. The environment would still be respected because the environment is something both sides in Oregon truly love. Imagine the beauty of the example below.

Example
After the tax incentives from the previous article were put in place, the state allowed its counties to vote on right-to-work laws. As a result, 150 manufacturing plants raced to the rural areas of the state. Molalla, Burns, Ontario, Pendleton, Klamath Falls, and Baker City were the cities that received these manufacturing plants.

As a result, the manufacturers all decided to take the tax incentive and even pay better than the incentivized wage. They are paying an average of $14 per hour for people to come and work in rural Oregon. There are, on average, 1,000 jobs per plant opening in the state. In total, that would be 150,000 new jobs in Oregon.

Since the plants were having a hard time finding people to work for them, the state worked with the larger cities to see if there were any homeless people that would like a job and a change of scenery. Quite a few homeless people took the opportunity. Other people fillled these jobs after quitting their minimum wage jobs that didn’t pay well.

150,000 people working full time at $14 per hour is a lot of money. That’s $2,240 per month per person. Altogether, that’s a little more than $4 billion per year. With the state income tax at 9 percent for these workers, that would bring in $362.9 million in tax revenue. That’s enough money to provide 36,290 college students in Oregon a full-tuition scholarship. Want “free” college? We need more taxpayers, not higher taxes.

Because of this spike in employment, other minimum wage jobs would be forced to offer more money for people to work for them. Even McDonalds would pay over $10 per hour if they were hurting bad enough. This is only the beginning. Over time, this investment of $4 billion per year is going to build up these smaller cities.

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