If you see the television ads or read the statements in the voter’s pamphlet in opposition to Oregon Ballot Measures 66 & 67, you would have the idea that if you vote yes on these measures that employers will have to lay off some number of their employees. This is not the case.  In most cases, unless a business is being seriously mismanaged, the amount of tax that Measure 67 will add to a company’s tax bill is small compared to the amount of business it is doing.

These arguments make it look like any tax increase would require the business to directly offset their tax expenses by cutting labor expenses.  Perhaps the company could consider cutting other expenses.  Perhaps they could find a way to sell additional product to recoup these small costs.  One way or another, the only way anyone will lost their jobs is if a vengeful company owner chooses to do it just to be vindictive.  Measure 67 will not cause anyone to lost their jobs.

On the other hand, if Oregon Ballot Measures 66 & 67 do pass, the direct result will be that it will save jobs at our company.  I will give you the specific effects of what will happen to myself and the people who work with me in a moment.  First, I will tell you what happens if these ballot measures do not pass.

A vote against these measures will cut funding to the services that receive funding through Oregon’s General Fund.  The vast majority of this money goes to pay for education, for public safety, and for human services.  For education, this means that we will be cutting funding and services for everything from our young children who deserve the best possible education, to colleges that will be training many of us for the jobs that we will take as the recession fades.  For public safety, this means that our overworked police, courts, and prisons will have less to work with to keep us safe.  For human services, this means that the poor and the disabled, the most vulnerable of our citizens, will have even fewer services available to them.

Since my company deals in something that would suffer if the human services part of the budget is cut, I will start there.  Certainly, similar arguments can be made in education and public safety.  But we will start here:

If the human services budget is cut, funding will be cut for healthcare for those who cannot afford it.  Those who are so disabled that they cannot function in society will suffer.  Programs that help the elderly continue to live independently so we don’t incur higher costs by institutionalizing them, will be left by the wayside.  This will mean that some number of the caregivers and other workers who keep these programs going will lose their jobs.  If Measures 66 & 67 fail to get a YES vote, these care-providing people will lose their jobs.

This is not a theoretical exercise where a $30 million corporation threatens to fire a worker because they had to pay $30,000 in state taxes this year, simply because they are not willing to admit right now that there are other ways to deal with it.  This is about the many people who will lose their jobs if these businesses do not pay their fair share in taxes.  Let me give you a specific example — my company.

At the moment, I am involved in a business that provides transportation services, and the majority of that business is something we call medical transportation.  Specifically, we transport people with disabilities to medical appointments, social service programs, and other places that they need to go.  A typical passenger, due to either age or disability, does not have the ability to get themselves where they need to go, and do not have the ability to use public transportation by themselves.

We do have many customers who pay for transportation themselves, occasionally their fee is paid by an insurance company or a charitable organization.  However, our largest customer is the State of Oregon.  Through Medicare/the Oregon Health Plan, the poor, the elderly, and the disabled have a way to get to the places that they otherwise cannot get to.

These trips are taken for a variety of reasons.  One of those is trips to the hospital, to a doctor appointment, or regular trips for things like chemotherapy or kidney dialysis.  Another is for trips to work or to training programs, so they can remain part of the community and continue to work.  Finally, for some selected people, the state provides assistance for trips to the grocery store or to outings that will help them to remain active in the community.  In this small way, keeping people independent keeps them from being more of a burden on the system that would otherwise have to provide a higher level of care.

If these ballot measures do not pass, one of the smaller budget items that will be cut is all of the non-medical trips under the Medical Transportation Program.  From the standpoint of the disabled person, they would now be essentially home-bound.  They would place needs on other parts of the system.  But if we think of this from the standpoint of the service provider, namely us, we will certainly have fewer drivers working for us.  If the state pays for fewer trips, there will be less work.  Either everyone’s income will be cut significantly, or there will be fewer drivers working at our company.

The number of positions lost will not be evident until the situation works itself out.  But I can promise you that if Measures 66 & 67 do not pass, there will be fewer people working at our company.  This is not a threat, rather, it is economics.

This is not only about myself or the medical transportation drivers.  It is about nurses and other caregivers.  It is about teachers and school employees.  It is about the police and corrections officers and court workers who keep us safe.  It is about many working Oregonians.

Please vote YES on Oregon Ballot Measure 66.

Please vote YES on Oregon Ballot Measure 67.

In these times of recession, this is what we can do to save jobs for Oregonians.