All blog posts related to the issue: Education
  • Ron: How to set the temperature right for statewide economic growth in Oregon

    Ron recently met with people around Oregon to discuss his plan to create good-paying jobs in every part of the state.

    He spoke at the Coastal Economic Summit in Grand Ronde, the Westside Economic Alliance in Hillsboro and a gathering in Eugene spotlighting the “app economy.”

    Throughout his conversations, Ron highlighted the following pieces of his plan:

    • Trade done right– a must in a state where one in five jobs depends on exports and a top priority for Ron, who succeeded in his work to improve transparency, congressional oversight and stronger enforcement of human rights as well as labor and environmental protections in new trade agreements 
    • Boosting Oregon’s growing travel and tourism sector, which is responsible for an estimated 101,000 jobs statewide.
    • Technology – and the need to protect the creativity that fostered the explosion of e-commerce and the free flow of information on the Internet.
    • Education, including his work to boost high school graduation rates.
    • Modernizing our transportation and infrastructure through tools like greater use of municipal bonds to attract more private investment and a multi-year plan for the federal Highway Trust Fund.
    • Uniting brewers, vintners, cidermakers and distillers on a comprehensive craft beverage bill that would cut taxes and modernize outdated regulations for those industries.
    • And getting Oregonians back to work in the woods by doubling the harvest in a sustainable way.

    Last week was all about what we can do to build on our strengths to continue creating middle-class jobs in every corner of our state,” Ron said. “All these pieces of the economic puzzle add up to a robust economy that can support a diverse statewide economy.”  

    While in Eugene, Ron also had the opportunity to drop off books from the Library of Congress to the children at the Boys & Girls Club of Emerald Valley. He did have help in that regard from a “very special guest.”

  • 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.