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Town Hall Meeting Avoids the Real Questions

Why are we wasting 200 million dollars of state money on corporate welfare for OHSU when people are dying from lack of social services? On Monday a large crowd of concerned citizens met at Grant High School to discuss the state budget crisis with about a dozen state representatives including House and Senate Democratic Leaders Kate Brown and Deborah Kafoury, Senate Ways and Means Co-Chair Kurt Schrader, Senator Avel Gordly, and Representative Jackie Dingfelder. Everyone seemed to agree that social services need to be funded yet there wasn't much in the way of solutions that address the heart of the problem, the misallocation of money we already have.

Senator Schrader presented some pretty modest figures for how much we need to fund basic health and human services, for maintaining environmental protections, etc. The figure he gave for all human services was about $300 million and for environmental protections $8-13 million. He asked the audience for suggestions on how to come up with the money.

One of the only suggestions offered was a well-intentioned but regressive sales tax being promoted by Senator Gordly to try to salvage life-saving programs. Unfortunately our "representatives" seem to have a blind spot about the massive corporate welfare going to OHSU while people are dying from lack of social service funding. The legislature is currently deciding on the second half of 200 million dollars of the tobacco settlement which is slated to be given to OHSU for their biotech venture "The Oregon Opportunity Plan". Compare this figure, approximately $100 million dollars, to Schrader's figures. According to those figures, that money would provide one third of the needed money for all social services. How many lives could this money save? [ Read More ] [ The Heist - History of the Tobacco Settlement Giveaway | Portland Trib article | Eugene Weekly article on corporate welfare: Boondoggle ]