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The court decision rejecting legislative changes to the Public Employee Retirement System could increase pension costs by $358 million in the 2017-19 biennium.
The unemployment rate in Crook County jumped to the highest in the state last month following layoffs at a mill in Prineville.
Last November the Woodgrain Mill shut down most of its operation in Prineville and laid off nearly 200 workers, after the mill's roof collapsed. Now, both the community and laid-off workers are struggling to recover.
Oregon authorities received notice Monday that a nursery operation in Washington County is closing, eliminating 100 jobs.
Legacy Health has begun notifying some of its employees to be laid off in a round of job cuts.
Beginning next month, Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) will be eliminating 50 positions from their flagship factory in Tillamook. The layoffs come as an attempt to reduce the high transportation costs associated with shipping cheese across the nation. Beyond saving money, TCCA hopes the cuts will improve overall efficiency as well. Starting February, only 40 percent of the cheese will be packaged at the factory, and the rest out of state, closer to its final destination. As a result up to half of the packaging department in Tillamook will lose their jobs. With a population of roughly 4,500 residents, and few family wage jobs available, a cut of 50 positions will have a large impact on the local community. Already the Tillamook Cheese Facebook page has been immersed with comments regarding the announcement, including strategies as to how Tillamook could avoid these reductions. TCCA has been active in defending their decision. The company is claiming that the cuts are necessary to remain competitive within the market place, and to deal with their growing customer base out with the Northwestern states. TCCA hopes that natural attrition within the workforce and retirements will account for some of the cuts, and states that Tillamook will always remain as the home and headquarters of the TCCA.
Washington state released their latest unemployment figures today. Oregon is expected to follow later this week and Oregon's news — much like Washington's — is not expected to be good. More and more people are losing their jobs as the economy continues to slide. What about people who are not being laid off, but whose employers are starting to feel the pinch? Some companies are cutting salaries by five or ten percent. (That may not sound like much, but if you're living paycheck to paycheck it may mean a present-less birthday party for your daughter or a missed mortgage payment.) Other companies are lapsing on their employees' medical insurance payments. How are you being chipped away at in this economy? How are those small changes changing your life?
Felony offenses including robbery, assault, rape, and theft have drastically increased in Medford over the past several years. Assault alone is up 52 percent, with 1,580 incidents last year. Drug offenses increased by 73 percent to 1,914 incidents in 2012. Law enforcement and other agencies are trying to figure out how to cope with the increase in crime, which is especially challenging due to tight budgets. The county sheriff's department was already considering layoffs during union negotiations earlier this year. Jackson County Mental Health, which also offers addiction services, laid off 10 people due to cuts during the last legislative session. The county jail has room for 230 inmates, but with 4,766 forced releases in Jackson County last year, Medford Deputy Chief Tim Doney says it's hard to keep people there. He says it's difficult to keep anyone in jail for long when they've been arrested for property crimes and drug crimes. Source: Medford Police Department
Governor Kitzhaber unveiled his budget proposal for the 2013-2015 biennium on Friday morning. One of the issues it is tackles is the controversy over how to deal with the rising costs of the Public Employees Retirement System. While that plan may be a hard sell with some state workers, his promise to eliminate furloughs will likely be a well-received change from the nearly two weeks of mandatory unpaid days in the current budget. The Oregon legislature convenes Jan. 14, 2013.
Portland Business Journal editor, Rob Smith, will be in studio for our regular business update. Here are some of the topics we'll be looking at:
Earlier this year, the Beaverton School Board approved a budget that eliminated 344 of its 4,000 teaching positions. But the adjustments teachers had to make didn't end with the cuts. Now educators are adjusting to larger class sizes, and some are being transferred to different schools to teach new subjects. Starting Friday, they're also beginning to use new software — called "Synergy" — that will let teachers and administrators to keep track of grades and student information. For some teachers, learning to use the new program has been as much of a headache as coping with growing class sizes.
Rob Smith, editor of the Portland Business Journal, returns for our regular business chat. We'll discuss a variety of topics, but we're focusing on layoffs at Bank of America and compensation for public employees. On Monday, Bank of America announced that it would cut 30,000 jobs as part of a plan to reduce expenses by $5 billion by 2014. We'll find out what impact these cuts will have on Oregon, where Bank of America is the second largest bank by deposit. A new database the journal is working on will catalog how much government employees at Metro, Multnomah County, and the City of Portland earn. The database will also cover the pay of CEOs at some of Oregon's publicly traded companies. The Portland Business Journal will release the database on Friday.
Peter DeFazio is known as an outspoken member of Congress. He was elected in 1986 and now serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee. Among his many caucus memberships, he's the founding member of the House Small Brewer's Caucus. DeFazio isn't shy about speaking his mind. Here's what he had to say about the debt deal (that he voted against):
We did not do good for our country with that vote. We didn't meaningfully address our long term deficit problems.And when it came to job creation he said this:
We have the economy that tax cuts gives us. It's not putting anybody to work. We need investment. The president talks about investment, but he never delivers and he never pushes and he never fights.He may say he's lost faith in the leadership in Washington, but he certainly still has faith in his home community of Lane County. He's fighting to get a veteran's medical center opened in Springfield or Eugene. (It's been approved, but is taking a long time to get going). And he responds to the recent layoff of 450 people at Monaco Coach by saying it's a symptom of the overall bleak economic climate and that the local economy most needs is a boost of education dollars, since the University of Oregon is one of the area's biggest employers. We'll talk to DeFazio about all those things, plus the Columbia River Crossing, the O&C lands (which depend on timber payments) and more.
School districts around Oregon now have a better idea of how much money they'll have to work with next year. For some, the amount is less than they hoped, but more than they feared. The Salem-Keizer school district is facing the biggest budget gap in the state, according to Superintendent Sandy Husk. The district is anticipating a large amount of layoffs. Hermiston school officials managed to avoid some of the bigger cuts they were anticipating. But in Clackamas, a district spokeswoman says that high schools will have 25 percent fewer teachers and high school students will go from taking eight classes to seven. It's possible lawmakers will tap more money from reserve funds before the end of the legislative session, but that's not an outcome school districts — or kids and parents — can count on.
Wednesday is the last day of school for kids in the Portland and Beaverton districts. In collaboration with the OPB News series, Learning with Less, we'll look back on how education fared during a tough economic year. It's been a tumultuous year for public schools across the state. Two of the biggest districts — Portland and Beaverton — both faced serious budget shortfalls. Over the past few months, we've talked about some of the heart-wrenching decisions school boards have had to make: closing Oregon's only public all-girls school, cutting funding for Outdoor School and eliminating 344 jobs in the Beaverton district. We've heard from parents who have been affected by all of these choices and some who've considered the private school option as a result. Earlier this month, the City of Portland put $7.1 million towards helping area schools make up their budget gaps. Portland Public Schools got the bulk of the money ($5 million) to save teaching jobs, but the district will still have to make significant cuts due to its $27 million budget shortfall.