Your weekly(ish) update on business, law and politics from Bend, Oregon.
Business: The National Association of Realtors points out that one reason for the flattening housing prices in the West (Bend is seeing this too) is that our region saw the biggest, fastest price increases and consumers are just being priced out of the market. That, along with the impact of increased interest rates, makes sense to me for what we’re seeing locally.
Law: One of the most common ways small businesses get tripped up legally is by designating someone an independent contractor when they are, in fact, an employee. The distinction between the two is not as clear as we might like, but in general it relates to the amount of control the business has over the worker – more control is likely an employment relationship; less control more likely an independent contractor relationship. Getting this right is a big deal for small businesses because lost wages, penalties and attorney fees are on the line, like this delivery company in Portland that was just ordered to pay $3.2 million to workers it had mischaracterized as independent contractors. Here’s a website maintained by the State of Oregon providing some pretty high-level guidance for employers.
Politics: Oregon’s strong economy is providing record revenue to the state government, but revenue over the next two-year budget, projected to be a 5% increase over the revenue from the current budget, is likely to be $623 million short. Newly re-elected Governor Kate Brown is proposing $2 billion in tax increases ($483 for every man, woman and child in Oregon, including our two toddler boys who aren’t likely to pitch in) for schools, and $700 million in hospital and other health care taxes to better fund Medicaid. (PS – turns out the calculator on my iPhone will only go to the 100s of millions, not billions which might explain some state and federal budgeting problems).
Et cetera: Did you have salad with your Thanksgiving meal? If so, you’re in good company assuming you live in the American West. Turns out salad is the Thanksgiving side dish most disproportionately favored by Westerners, which basically reinforces every stereotype people in the rest of the country have about us. Seems to me the South is onto something with its affinity for mac and cheese.
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