Letter to governor: Come and see realities of rural life

Dear Gov. Brown:

We read with interest your 2016 State of the State address, delivered last Friday, April 8, at the City Club in Portland.

We appreciate many of the achievements you cited:

— Your generally steady, face-into-the-wind approach as you took over the governor’s seat last year in “unexpected” circumstances, as you put it.

— Oregon’s lowest unemployment rate in 15 years.

— Your efforts to strengthen ethics and public records laws. Good stuff. We’re all for any effort to improve governmental transparency and public records access, to – as you put it, “restore public trust in government.”

— Your efforts to improve education in a state that has one of the worst graduation rates in the nation.

— Your efforts to ensure safety on school and college campuses.

— Your efforts to help the 20,000 homeless children in Oregon’s K-12 education system.

— Your efforts to encourage entrepreneurship and provide aid to small businesses.

— Your efforts to improve transportation in the state.

A lot of your speech was happy talk, which is understandable.

Some of it was not so happy for us, the rural residents of the state.

That “three-tiered” minimum wage increase, “one the state of New York has just decided to emulate,” was a mistake. Sure, it may provide a short-term Band-aid solution for people from lower economic background, but if you and the members of the Legislature who supported this had listened to voices of reason from the business community, who actually know what they’re talking about, we wonder if you would have been so quick to put your name on a document that may come back to haunt us all.

It shouldn’t be a mystery to any of us why so-called business interests – the unions – want to see minimum wage increases, since their already generous wage scales are often based on minimum-wage baselines. Your action means they’ll make more, and we’ll all pay more for the services and products their employers provide – just like we will at the local fast-food joint and the bowling alley and the corner market.

Stir the pot and it will simply boil over. You talked about how you want to encourage small business, “which comprises 90 percent of Oregon’s economy,” but you just added to the cost of doing business in this state. You talked about how you want to see businesses expand, but why would a business owner be inclined to expand if his or her costs keep going up, thanks to you?

And in the end, it will cost us all. Over the course of that increase you provided, which is artificial instead of a result of market pressures, which is what it should have been, we’ll all pay more