BEND, OR -- According to a report released today by the Oregon Center for Public Policy, the income gap separating Oregon's very rich from ordinary Oregonians has never before been so wide.
Juan Carlos Ordonez of the OCPP says public policy needs to change in order to solve this issue. "It's definitely one of the biggest, if not the biggest, challenge that we face in Oregon and it's really high time the Oregon legislature stepped up to the plate and started confronting it. There's a lot that we can do here in Oregon to reduce and minimize the impact of income inequality and the vast majority of Oregonians would be better off."
But Ordonez has a solution ... a way, he believes, to invest in the policies that will lead to wage equality. "All of these investments need to be paid for, and the way to do that is we need to have progressive and adequate taxes. We need to look to high income Oregonians and corporations and raise revenue from them."
The OCPP says the best ways to erase income inequality and create opportunity lie in investing in education, affordable housing, and universal health care. "Everyone pretty much recognizes that education is the key to creating opportunity for people, but we here in Oregon have been disinvesting in our education system for a long time, so we need to invest in our people, create a top-notch educational system from pre-school all the way through college. We also need to make sure that everyone has health care, and we need to make housing affordable."
Ordonez explains where the OCPP got the numbers they used to gain these data points. "We took the most recent data provided by the Oregon Department of Revenue, and so we're looking at Oregon Tax data, and so what we're looking at is income inequality, the divide between the haves and have-nots, and what we're seeing here is that Oregon's wealthiest, the top one-tenth of one percent, they're income is at a record high, and meanwhile, the middle income Oregonian has basically made no progress over the past forty years."
The OCPP is calling on the Oregon legislature to create policy that will equalize opportunity for all Oregonians.