PCC November 7 Bond Measure - EDITORIAL COMMENTARY BY LES WARDENAAR, Interfaith Alliance Advocacy Action Team

Experts agree that EDUCATION is the most effective way to lift people up and out of generational poverty. This is why our Portland Community College system is such a critical resource in the fight against poverty in our Metropolitan area. It provides accessible, affordable and confidence-building education and training to a population that needs it most.  And this is why--even if you are suffering from "voter fatigue" or think that single issue election doesn't matter--you need to cast your ballot. If passed, the PCC Bond Measure would authorize $185 million in bonds over a 16-year period, money that would enable:

  • (1)modernization of the college's workforce training center in Northeast Portland;
  • (2) construction of a Child Development Center on the Rock Creek Campus;
  • (3) renovation of the  Health Technology Center on the Sylvania campus;
  • (4) modernization of technology and equipment;
  • (5) creation of additional training spaces for health care professions programs.

These effects are in addition to basic maintenance, extended life, and the "greening" of PCC facilities and processes. Because this is a sustaining bond measure rather than an entirely new spending authorization, it is not expected to increase the tax burden on Portland homeowners.

In the current Portland economy, many high-paying, family-sustaining jobs remain unfilled for lack of qualified candidates. PCC is our most obvious resource to strike a blow against poverty by bridging this gap, but it needs more resources, more program capacity, and more efficiency in its training. Meanwhile, a wide variety of non-profits are working hard to provide poverty-entrapped youth and adults with the awareness, self-confidence, and sustaining support to go after these opportunities. But all of these programs depend on a vital and expanding community college system.

PCC tuition costs roughly half that of a state university (one-tenth that of a private college), not to mention convenience and lower cost living expenses. Offering degrees and certificates in more than 100 areas of study, PCC ranks #1 among all Oregon higher education institutions in terms of graduates' earnings compared to tuition costs (2017 Portland Business Journal).

According to PCC sources, every dollar invested in the PCC system returns $12.50 to Oregon's economy in added state revenue and social savings (e.g. medical, elfare, unemployment payments). Our community not only needs this resource, but it turns out to be a great investment of taxpayer dollars.

The simplest yet most important action that Interfaith Alliance members can take against Poverty is to VOTE for measures and candidates that are the most likely to yield positive results. Keep that in mind as November 7 approaches!!!