Prominent Oregonians offered sharply different — and somewhat ironic — views last week on whether state government can affect the economy. A well known economist said the state is merely along for the ride, while the Senate's top Republican insisted state actions can dampen job growth or propel creation of small business.
Joe Cortright, a private economist known for popularizing the idea of traded-sector jobs, told a legislative committee the state is along for the ride and cannot affect the future.
Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli disagreed with Cortright in an op-ed piece published by The Oregonian: "I'd like to advise these economists to install some windows into their ivory towers. I am afraid they are ignoring the living testimony of Oregon's thousands of small businesses if they help perpetuate that overregulation and excessive tax burden have nothing to do with the economic distress of businesses or our ability to recruit new employers to Oregon. A cursory look at the state's excessive minimum wage, top tax rate and regulatory creep all reveal these factors to be significant forces affecting Oregon's economic future."
Senate and House Republicans have charged there were too few job-creation proposals considered in the 2011 session. This debate is bound to continue between now and the February legislative session, as well as into the political campaign season.