In the just released video Ben Unger addressing the Bus Project kids, Mr. Unger makes several claims and proposals. Let’s examine the video:
First off, he says we should vote for him so he’ll go down and fight for better funding and lower class sizes. According to this site, http://www.teachersalaryinfo.com/oregon/teacher-salary-in-hillsboro-school-district-1j/ , the student to teacher ratio in the district he’s running to represent is approximately 20:1, which is one of the lower ratios in the state. His opponent, Katie Eyre, was one of the proponents of the “Fund Education First” theme, which led to the state legislature passing it’s education budget earlier than in past years. And according to this article, funding has actually gone up for schools in recent years, as we now spend about $12,000 per student per year.
Next, Mr. Unger says the people of Forest Grove have the lowest wages of anyone in the Portland Metro Area. While they do make less money than people in the city of Portland or Beaverton (by about $7000), the cost of living is also much lower in Forest Grove. For example, according to Zillow.com, the median sale price for a home in Forest Grove is $90,000 less than the homes that sell in Portland. Add to that lower DMV fees, no parking meters, less drive time and traffic in the town, and property taxes that are on the low end of the Metro area, and you have a lower cost of living in general.
He then claims that the main difference between him self and Katie Eyre is the he believes everyone should have access to affordable health care. Katie Eyre wants us to be able to deduct our health care costs from our taxes. Unger mentioned no details on health care.
On the topic of the Columbia River Crossing, he waffles around a bit before stating that he supports it with public transit. Assuming he means light rail, has he looked at the cost of that? According to this report, the couple miles of light rail that would, presumably, go from the Portland Expo Center to downtown Vancouver is $850 million. In fact, that’s one of the issues holding up the construction of the new bridge.
His next statement might be the most outlandish of all. He says “One (education reform idea) that’s really hurt our local school districts here in Forest Grove and Hillsboro have been the proposals to allow students to pick whatever school they want to go to”. He wants students to be locked into schools, regardless of how well the school performs over all, or where the students feel more comfortable. Make no mistake about it, this isn’t about helping your student. It’s about the teachers union, one of Ungers primary donors, according to ORESTAR. If he wants more funding for education, perhaps he should support diverting some of that $850 light rail money from the CRC, or the $1.5 Billion light money from the Milwaukie light rail line, and move it toward education.
It doesn’t get much better for Mr. Unger. He wants to go after the approximately 66,000 people in Oregon who pay federal income tax, but no Oregon state income tax. He claims this would bring in about $200 million in revenue. Assuming he’s referencing this article, he gets the number wrong. It’s $109 million, and it was in reference to 2007. Let’s do some math. 109,000,000 divided by 66,000 is about $1651. According to the 2007 Oregon tax table, $1650 would be the tax liability if your taxable income was $20,500. Add in some of the deductions, and you’re looking at $25k – $30k. The lower middle class. Yes, that’s right, it appears as though Mr. Unger wants to hammer the people who can least afford it.
The democrat party, a voice for the working class?