Over the past few years, I’ve heard several students talk highly about their decision to come to the University of Oregon. Many take advantage of the lower cost of living while others receive scholarships and come for a change of scenery. Sadly, I’ve also heard of students who just couldn’t handle the red state they grew up in and were so happy to be in a “blue” state. The only problem is that Oregon isn’t as blue as the media make it seem.
Most counties are red
During the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton only won 8 out of 36 counties in Oregon. Sure, that’s where the populace was. But we need to take into consideration that democrats don’t make up even half of the registered voters in the state. According to the Secretary of State, about 36 percent of all registered voters in Oregon are registered as democrats. The second largest voting population came up as non-affiliated, just under 31 percent of registered voters. Republicans make up a little under 21 percent of Oregon’s registered voters. While some may see this as a confirmation of the state’s left-leaning tendencies, there’s much more to the story than meets the eye.
Taking a look at the 2016 presidential election map for Oregon shows just how scattered republican voters are. Perhaps the most profound part of this map is how Oregon is viewed as a liberal utopia, but only one out of 36 counties is actually solid blue — Multnomah County. 10 percent of Oregon’s voters are registered democrats and are registered to vote in Multnomah County.
Oregon’s underfunded education
Last year, Oregon ranked 48th in the nation for high school graduation rates. Since 1990, Oregon has seen a dramatic divestment from public school funding. This is partially thanks to Measure 5, which put a constitutional limit on property taxes for the state and dedicated them to education and non-school government operations. Interestingly enough, public education funding was transferred from local to state responsibility. The idea was to help the rural parts of Oregon — namely Eastern Oregon — get more funding to provide a better education to the state as a whole. At the time, it was a great idea, and it worked for some parts of Oregon.
Public college and university funding are also state responsibilities. Since Measure 5 was passed, the University of Oregon has seemingly received less state funding. On top of this, Oregon lawmakers haven’t been very successful in attempts to reform PERS, the public retirement system.
Even current Governor Kate Brown didn’t follow the will of the voters, who overwhelmingly passed Measure 98 in 2016 with 66 percent of the vote. Governor Brown’s budget for the 2017–2019 biennium underfunded Measure 98, which allotted more Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes and funding for dropout prevention for high schools. This move is surprising, considering that most Oregon democrats would expect such behavior from a republican governor.
Oregon’s interesting priorities
Democrats usually tout how they fight for the little guy and want to tax the rich so they can help those in need. In Oregon, the same is said but not exactly demonstrated. Not only is education underfunded in order to pay for OHP, Oregon’s government has a history of taxing everyone, and letting the rich and wealthy get away with lower business taxes.
Just take a look at Measure 101 from this past January. We voted on whether we wanted to have our health insurance taxed in order to pay for OHP. Of course, voters who didn’t read the text of the bill were told that they were voting on a tax that would affect big corporations in the insurance industry — a lie by omission that wound up passing the voters.
Another way Oregon’s elected officials swayed voters was through emotional manipulation, scaring the voters into approving Measure 101 in fear of closing down the state mental hospital and 350,000 Oregonians losing healthcare, neither of which were actually valid.
Governor Kate Brown signed a bill that would tax small businesses at a higher rate and called a special session to extend a business tax break. This matters because Oregon’s businesses wouldn’t get to enjoy the federal tax breaks signed by President Trump. In addition, the special session is an offering of a tax break to sole proprietorships — a type of business that is usually run and owned by one person. This means that any other small businesses will not get to enjoy a tax break that may allow them to reinvest into their business, allowing for local economies to benefit as well.
People should be aware of what they’re moving into and what they may or may not be voting to keep in place. Oregon has a lot of stubborn voters that won’t vote for anyone without a ‘D’ next to their name, so people believe that the state won’t be turning red anytime soon. Historically, Oregon has only been blue for between 40 and 50 years. It’s time to give someone else a chance.
If you need to register to vote, change your party or update, you can do so online, by mail and in the DMV. The last day to do this is April 29 before the 2018 Oregon Primary Election.