In January, we have a choice. With Measures 66 and 67, we all get to decide what we value as a state. As the manager of a small business with 40 employees and a father of three children in Lake Oswego Public Schools, I value and am concerned for the well-being of both my business and my children. I am voting yes on Measures 66 and 67 to smartly invest in the future of both.
As a businessperson, I know that strong schools are vital to Oregon’s economic recovery and future. Now more than ever we need to offer businesses a well-trained workforce, and provide our kids with tools to acquire the well-paid jobs of tomorrow. Oregon needs an educated workforce to thrive in a competitive world.
As a father, I want my children to have the opportunity to learn and succeed in school right now. Strong schools are critical to their future. They will benefit most from being in small classes, led by effective, inspired teachers, for a full school year. They need access to a quality education right now, which is why we can’t afford to cut millions of dollars in funding from Oregon schools. If voters reject Measures 66 and 67 on January 26th , schools and essential public services will face at least an additional $727 million in cuts. Oregon’s children will suffer because of these cuts.
From a business standpoint, it’s irresponsible and short-sighted to keep cutting education funding. From a father’s standpoint, it’s unacceptable to keep making our kids pay the price today.
The fact is that most families (97 percent) in Oregon won’t see their taxes go up at all. Families who make less than $250,000 a year won’t see any increase in their personal taxes. Even for the people who will be paying more, the increase is a modest investment in the schools and critical services that Oregonians depend on. For those who, like me, will be paying more in taxes if the measures pass, the increase for most taxpayers and businesses will not materially affect their business or their lifestyle while providing for better education, which will benefit our communities and businesses in the long run. An investment in Oregon’s children will yield many remarkable returns.
Even if Measures 66 and 67 pass, Oregon school districts will still remain roughly $550 million below essential funding levels. If the measures fail, our schools will face an additional $300 million in cuts. Class sizes will be bigger, the school year shorter, and our failure to provide better education for our children – inexcusable.
These are difficult economic times, and many families in Oregon are struggling. The measures do the right thing to protect the services these families rely on, and will put us back on the road to economic recovery.
We have a choice; we can do the right thing. I’ll be voting yes in January as a father and a member of the business community to protect what I value most: our children, our schools, our small businesses, and the health of our communities.
Keith Ketterling is a resident of Lake Oswego and a board member of Stand for Children Oregon Advisory Board..
An opinion letter from Keith Ketterling, one of Stoll Berne’s shareholders, published in the Lake Oswego Review on December 10, 2009.