While Oregon blows $190 million studying the CRC, and $200 m to buy cancer researcher jobs (at a state taxpayer cost of $900,000 each), Washington State’s legislature stepped forward and with different priorities.
With $700 million in bond funding, their state legislature just voted to build kindergarten through 3rd grade classrooms throughout the state, so that full day kindergarten and reduced class sizes would be a possibility in district after district.
That choice of priorities, not lower taxes, would be a decent reason to move to across the border.
RAD: The op ed below appeared in the UnOregonian before the OSHU vote in the legislature last week.
It speaks eloquently to the misplaced priorities of our legislature and their seduction by another Phil Knight scheme to feed his gigantic ego which will do little for the residents of Oregon. What should be supported is basic research and training primary care physicians not adding another battalion to the war against cancer!
A Pacific colleague advises Latino students. Two students applied to med school at OHSU and the UW - no interest by OHSU both admitted to UW Med school with scholarships. Guess what state they will no doubt practice in? The brain drain from Oregon continues. Several years ago OHSU cut back care to indigient residences. Priorities!
Our social safety net is torn and tattered, our schools are a financial mess and the idea of Oregon being in the lead in the fight against cancer is absurd. There are many premier research centers in the USA doing this work - one of the best is in Seattle, the The Hutchinson Center/University of Washington Cancer Consortium.
By Jody Wiser
There is nothing wrong with allowing OHSU to borrow money on the state’s credit card. Our main question is: who will repay the loan - Taxpayers or OHSU?
OHSU wants the $200 million to be a gift from the state as part of the $500 million they need to match Phil Knight’s one billion dollar challenge grant. The cost to Oregon’s 1.6 million taxpayers will be at least $125 per person. That is an involuntary, non deductible gift to OHSU. This debt will cost the General Fund (taxpayers) an estimated $13 million per year for 25 years -- on top of the $35 million a year that OHSU already receives.
OHSU can “Just do it” itself. It is far from broke. Its operating income last year was $13 million over target. It has an A+ bond rating. Oregon State University is proof it can be done -- OSU has just raised $1 billion from more than 100,000 private contributors. Surely, OHSU with thousands of thankful patients and medical school graduates can do so as well.
Last year the U of O got $90 million of state bond money to upgrade the student union and rec center. Students paying higher student fees for the next 25 years will pay off that debt. If students can repay bond debt, so can OHSU, with research grants, philanthropic fundraising, or royalties from Brian Drucker’s revolutionary cancer treatment for leukemia. Why does it require a gift from Oregon’s taxpayers?
The proponents claim that the state will get $35 million a year in increased taxes from this deal. To generate that kind of revenue takes 4300 people making $130,000 a year. OHSU expects to add only 380 permanent full time staff and another 6,800 temporary construction jobs. The $35 million figure seems rather exaggerated, even considering indirect jobs.
We would like to see OHSU in the top ranks of national cancer research centers, not only to advance the battle against cancer, but also to attract more high-level scientific jobs and the indirect jobs they would likely bring. OHSU is now ranked 49th among the top 50 cancer research centers. The infusion of $1 billion in operating funds spread over ten years and two new $200 million buildings should make a difference in that ranking. But should Oregon taxpayers foot the bill when OHSU is capable of paying the debt?
Our second concern is that Legislators have only $280 million in bonding authority remaining to “spend” this session. What other claims might be pushed aside to accommodate OHSU?
If in November, voters approve the Legislature’s plan to use bonds to finance Oregon Student Opportunity grants, will there be bonding authority available? Or will it be gone to OHSU?
A more pressing priority is to upgrade our courthouses and do seismic retrofitting of Oregon schools that have been declared at risk. What will legislators say when the Big One arrives and thousands of school children and citizens serving on juries are buried in the rubble?
We have shunted this need aside long enough. Funding seismic retrofitting in some 1000 schools and dozens of courthouses would create as many construction jobs as would building OHSU new buildings, and the jobs would be all across the state, not just in Portland.
Phil and Penny Knight are to be lauded for their vision and generosity, but their challenge is to philanthropy, not the public treasury. This is an inappropriate and unnecessary use of public funds and legislators should not be pressured into approval by fuzzy forecasts of its benefits.
To illustrate that such missplaced priorities aren't unique to Oregon - see what Canadians are doing and it's the tip of their iceberg!
Canadian subsidies to save jobs! The race to the bottom is not just in Oregon!