Legislative Review
             Did the legislature get it right?
I've always been a firm believer government should act as a stepping stone for citizens and not a stumbling block. After reading an article from Cheat Sheet, titled, "10 Worst States in America to Make a Living in 2015," I began to wonder if the 2015 Legislative Session passed legislation to help Oregonians be successful or did it create more road blocks?

The article ranks each state on five key performance measures:
  • Average wages
  • State tax rates
  • Cost of living
  • Unemployment rate
  • Incidents of workplace illness, injuries and facilities
According to the article from Cheat Sheet, unfortunately, Oregon is the second worst state in America for making a living. Our cost of living index is nearly 30% above the national average at 128.5 with an average income of $46,850. In addition to high unemployment, we have one of the highest rates of workplace safety incidents in America with an average of 4.2 workplace incidents per 100 workers. 

Additionally, Oregon's most recent report regarding employment numbers indicate the state's labor force participation rate has tumbled to 60.3%. In other words, nearly 40% of Oregon adults are neither working nor looking for a job. This is the lowest point since analysts started tracking the number nearly four decades ago. Not to mention a recent article from Yahoo News indicates Oregon is the 5th hardest state to find full-time employment!

In comparison, Texas ranked as the best state in 2015 to make a living, while Washington finished second. Washington's economy is growing. In fact, from June 2014-2015, Washington added an estimated 114,700 jobs! Washington has the highest average wages in the country with employees earning an annual income of $52,540 with no state income tax. 

Oregon is a beautiful place to live with green trees, tall mountains, scenic hikes, and peaceful beaches. However, high unemployment and high cost of living make it difficult for many Oregonians to make a living.

What did the Oregon Legislature do to make Oregon more inviting for people to move to? Is our state business friendly? Do we attract new companies to start a business here? Do we create road blocks or stepping stones?

This past session, the Oregon Legislature passed mandatory paid sick leave, the controversial low carbon fuel standard (which increases the gas tax), unenforceable private sale handgun background checks, and mandatory government retirement savings plans. These issues were all top priorities for the majority party. Will these new laws help Oregonians find stable employment and make our state one of the best places to live?

I want Oregon to be the TOP state in the U.S. to make a living, not the second worst state! What do YOU think? I want to hear from you, which is why I've create the following survey. Should you get the opportunity, please click here and share your thoughts. 

On another note, I hope you take the time to enjoy the beauty of Oregon. There's so much to see and experience. 

Thank you and have a great upcoming Labor Day weekend.

Andy Olson

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900 Court St. NE, H-478
Salem, OR 97301

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