How about a real excise tax?

The recent proposal by Dave Kanner April 12 raises an interesting possibility for better supporting creative solutions to Ashland’s homeless crisis.

As a recent out-of-state purchaser of several properties in Ashland, my only question for proponents of this idea is why only 0.1 percent? By my estimate this would raise only about $120,000 per year if one assumes approximately 300 houses are sold in Ashland each year at an average price of $400,000. Alternatively, a 1 percent tax would raise some real money at $1.2 million per year with the same assumptions.

I would also not limit it to houses above $900,000, as the secondary assumptions about somehow discouraging people with means from buying into the wonderful vortex of Ashland are misinformed. People are moving to Ashland because it is a uniquely beautiful and sophisticated small town with a liberal vibe found in very few other places on the West Coast. A small tax on a home purchase will never deter people who want to live here, and they are not just buying expensive homes.

The San Juan Islands in Washington state imposed a 1 percent excise tax on all real estate sales in 1990 and renewed it in 1999 with a 73 percent majority. In their case the funds are dedicated toward land preservation, but I would argue dedicating funds to the crisis we see on our streets would be more appropriate, given the compelling need for new solutions. In 2017 the San Juan Island Land Bank expects to receive $2.6 million in revenue from this source.

Jim Orrell

Ashland and Lopez Island

Say no to tuition hikes

Gov. Kate Brown sent a letter to all commissioners on the Higher Education Coordinating Commission urging voting members to vote down any tuition increase requests by universities above 5 percent. With Governor Brown on our side, now is the time to use this momentum to push investment in higher education.

I work three jobs and am on food stamps in order to pay for my schooling and rent. This struggle made me passionate about the investment of higher education and was the reason I joined the Oregon Student Association. As a member, I have met with students statewide to fight for investment in higher education. I see the negative impact of student loan debt across the state and this is why the governor's letter gave me hope.

Education is too expensive already and is pricing students out of their institutions. With every university facing devastatingly high tuition increases for the next year it is time for decision-makers to join Governor Brown in supporting the future of Oregon by advocating for students. Institutional boards may increase tuition, but increases above 5 percent must be approved by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, which means there is still an opportunity for students to shut down these tuition increases.

Let’s make our presence known on May 11 by showing up to the HECC meeting. I urge students and supporters to attend the meeting. Hopefully by coming together in solidarity, we can show the HECC that we can’t take on the burden of higher tuition costs.

Leo McCaffrey