All blog posts related to the issue: Education
  • Giving Every Child a Chance to Succeed

    Every kid in Oregon and in America deserves every opportunity for success and that starts with access to a good public education. That’s why I voted for the Every Child Achieves Act, which the Senate passed this week on a bipartisan vote of 81-17. 

    Every Child Achieves fixes major problems with No Child Left Behind and redefines the role of the federal government in a way that helps – not hinders – our kids.

    In Oregon, and across the country, graduation rates are a major concern. This bill lays a better foundation for success, so kids are more likely to graduate, and it includes my plan to give more schools access to grants that can help students who are at risk of dropping out.  It’s my hope that governments and school districts will keep working together to make sure all students have the chance to succeed and the tools they need to follow their dreams. 

    Together with Sen. Boxer, I fought to expand opportunities for kids to enroll in after-school and summer learning programs – because learning isn’t just a 9 month gig. And Sen. Booker and I succeeded in adding an amendment to make sure that our foster and homeless youth are counted in graduation rates. With this important data, educators and policymakers can better support these at-risk students.

    There were two provisions that I am very disappointed weren’t included. The first was Sen. Franken’s amendment to provide support and protections to LGBTQ kids in school. School is hard enough. These students deserve more support at school to prevent bullying and report it when it does happen. The second was an amendment to help all kids have the strongest start possible by helping low-income families send their kids to Pre-K.

    I will keep fighting for these two provisions because every kid should feel safe at school and have access to early education - no matter who they are or how much their parents make.

    There’s clearly much more work to be done. But, as a whole, the Every Child Achieves Act is a good step forward to expanding opportunity through education for all kids – no matter where they come from or how much their parents earn.

  • 10 Ways the Tax System is Unfair to Middle-Class Americans

    On Tax Day, Ron calls for comprehensive tax reform that works for all Americans. Here are just ten ways the broken tax code hurts middle-class families:

    1. Unfair tax treatment of wage income vs. wealth

    Taxes on wealth, such as capital gains, are often subject to a lower tax rate than wages and salaries, which the vast majority of every day Oregonians rely on for most of their income. A fair tax system would narrow the disparity between tax rates on income from wealth and income from work

    2. The tax code is too complex. 

    Without access to expensive financial planners, many families aren’t event aware of the tax credits they could take advantage of hidden in the 74,608 page tax code.  Students from Oregon, like Eugene’s Amber Lee, miss out on tax breaks to help with the costs of higher education.

    3. It takes Americans far too much time to complete their taxes.  

    Everyone deserves their April back!  It shouldn’t take U.S. taxpayers 6.1 billion hours and $168 billion per year to file their taxes.

    4. Small, family businesses are forced to navigate confusing rules and requirements.  

    According to the National Small Business Association, 40% of small businesses reported spending more than 80 hours a year dealing with federal taxes in 2014. Businesses in Oregon and across the country should be using this time to grow their businesses, not figuring out their taxes.

    5. Upside-down retirement tax breaks. 

    Our tax code makes it harder for typical Americans to save for retirement as incentives for retirement saving benefit high-income families far more than middle- and low-income families.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, only 16% of retirement tax benefits go to the bottom 60% of U.S. households by income.

    6. Those who ask for help from the IRS often can’t even get it. 

    It’s middle and low-income Americans who cannot afford expensive accountants that rely on the IRS for tax help. Customer service has declined in recent years due to budget cuts, so much that calling the IRS is like shouting into a void. Only 4 in 10 U.S. taxpayers calling into the IRS for help can get through to a real person. IRS budget cuts have led to inadequate service meaning billions in taxpayer dollars go uncollected every year. Many well-off taxpayers know this and have little fear of getting audited.

    7. Scams, fraud and identity theft are on the rise

    According to the Federal Trade Commission the #1 complaint they receive is tax-related identity theft.   In 2013 43% of all identify theft complaints to the FCC were tax related, up from 15% in 2010.  

    8. The well-off are gaming the system through offshore tax avoidance. 

    Billions of dollars are being hidden in undisclosed off-shore accounts, leaving taxpayers and small business to foot the bill Last year alone the Treasury and state governments lost nearly $110 billion in tax revenues through offshore tax havens. 

    9. No basic standards for tax-return preparers. 

    Without basic standards, too many unaffiliated tax-return preparers are incompetent or even unethical, giving taxpayers incorrect advice and potentially depriving them of their refund – something that many Oregon families depend on. Senators Wyden and Cardin are fighting to set basic standards that tax-preparers must meetLearn more here.

    10. The tax code is filled with loopholes that encourage the use of complicated financial products to lower the tax burden on investments. 

    Earlier this year Senator Wyden released a report detailing a number of these strategies. Once identified, these loopholes must be sealed shut.



  • Creating manufacturing jobs at home in McMinnville

    As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Wyden knows the importance of innovative partnerships between the private sector and local schools to provide training that will generate good-paying manufacturing jobs in Oregon and nationwide.

    On Tuesday, he saw just such a partnership in action in Yamhill County between Yamhill-Carlton High School and Meggitt Polymers and Composites in nearby McMinnville.

    Meggitt makes polymer-related seals for the aerospace industry and has worked with other local businesses to develop an outreach program for the workforce it needs locally.

    During his visit to the high school, Sen. Wyden heard from top Meggitt officials as well as from school teachers and administrators how the estimated $250,000 the company has contributed to the school over the past three years has benefited students.

    Yamhill-Carlton students have received top-notch equipment and exposure to manufacturing techniques and machinery used at Meggitt, had their manufacturing shop completely rebuilt, and interacted directly with Meggitt executives and employees.

    It’s so exciting what’s going on at the high school,” Sen. Wyden said after an hourlong visit that included touring the school’s metal and wood shops and speaking with an AP government class. “It doesn’t get any better than this.

    From the high school, Sen. Wyden traveled to visit Meggitt’s facility in McMinnville. After touring the facility, Sen. Wyden spoke with about 75 employees and fielded their questions in a half-hour forum.

    He told the employees that he sees his job as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee as working to raise everybody’s wages, which he called “one of the premier economic issues of our time.”

    Sen. Wyden said one in five Oregon jobs depends on international trade, which often pay better than other jobs.

    Oregon prospers, he told the Meggitt employees, when it grows and makes products in the state, adds value to products in Oregon and then ships those products somewhere. He said that’s what happening at Meggitt.

    It’s clear what the ambition is here in McMinnville -- to beat the pants off the competition,” Sen. Wyden said.

    People in politics don’t create jobs,” he added. “The jobs come from you all -- the private sector … If I can help set the climate right, you all can do your thing.”

    Sen. Wyden spoke of how his bipartisan plan to lower the top tax rate from 35 percent to 24 percent would “reward the people who create what I call good-paying red-white-and-blue jobs.”

    Asked his definition of a good-paying job, Sen. Wyden described it as one that “lets you buy a house, buy a car, educate your kids ….maybe even once in a while go on a trip to the coast for a couple of days.”

    He linked the job training that students at Yamhill-Carlton High School are receiving from Meggitt as a vital support to ensure Oregon continues to grow its manufacturing base.

    This is a big piece of Oregon’s economic future,” he said. “Middle-class people are hurting and we need these kinds of jobs.”