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|Articles - March 2011|
|Wednesday, March 02, 2011|
Page 4 of 4
State legislators haven’t walked away from the ambitious project of establishing a state-run bank from scratch in Oregon. They’re running away from it. A bill introduced this session by Rep. Bob Jenson (R-Pendleton) calling for a North Dakota-style bank quickly morphed into a compromise proposal for an “Oregon Financing and Credit Authority” backed by Rep. Phil Barnhart (D-Eugene) with support from State Treasurer Ted Wheeler. Business groups such as the Oregon Business Association and Associated Oregon Industries have not yet taken a position on the issue.
The still-evolving compromise proposal calls for consolidating existing programs and funds rather than creating a new state bank. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at how to use the assets we already have in a more productive way,” says Barnhart. “We could invest some of that money in lending to small businesses to build Oregon’s economy.”
Wheeler, whose role would change radically under a state bank system, says it makes sense to combine the state’s economic development offerings into one office that also participates in loans originated by local banks rather than competing with those banks. “We don’t need to replicate the North Dakota model,” Wheeler says. “I don’t think it would be a good use of public funds, and I don’t think it’s necessary. We can leverage off of the things already in place and achieve the same goals.”
For example, in late January Wheeler’s office reduced collateral requirements for banks that receive public fund deposits from 100% to 75% as a reflection of the improved economy. That freed up an estimated $600 million for local lending without costing taxpayers anything.
Wheeler says improving other existing programs and policies could bring similar results. He has shared his ideas with the bankers association and the Working Families Party, and the ironing out of details is under way.
The end product, should it become law, will probably share little in common with the much-idealized and feared Bank of North Dakota. It will not require the immediate hiring of bankers for state jobs. Nor will it endanger the liquidity of public funds or sap money from the general fund in times of intense cost-cutting. Wheeler, Barnhart and other supporters of the middle way are hoping it will help solve the credit problem without creating a fresh supply of new problems. Time will tell how deep their support reaches in a legislative session already packed with challenges.
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We asked readers to weigh in on the fossil fuel-green energy equation.
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Transforming the culture of Oregon’s educational leadership.
The Board dismissed a petition related to efforts to unionize the Northwestern University football team.
Every once in a while we receive a letter in the (fictional) mailbag that is tough to describe and quite compelling. This week, Isabel, the new HR manager at LabCo (and someone who is new to HR), wants to know whether she may fire the owner’s son for having an Oregon medical marijuana card. In passing, Isabel also makes a number of alarming admissions about her motivation. Here is Isabel’s nerve-racking question and our response to it.
Oregon Sick Leave is here, and changes to the federal white-collar worker regulations are on the way. This workshop will prepare you for both. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to start planning now for the future impact on your operations and finances.
Presented by OEN + CENTRL + YESpdx.
This Roundtable will cover numerous issues under the employer "shared responsibility" rules of the Affordable Care Act, including how to track the "full-time" status of variable-hour employees, temporary or seasonal employees, and employees who experience a change in status or a break in service. Additionally, we will provide a brief overview of Code sections 6055 and 6056, which require most mid-sized and large employers to submit their first information reports to the IRS in early 2016 regarding the health insurance coverage being offered to employees. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to prepare for the future impact of the shared responsibility rules on your operations and finances.