It's largely due to cronyism in government, as politicians strive to demonstrate their ability to "create jobs" by handing out millions, if not billions of dollars in subsidies, tax breaks, and other incentives. Locally, then-Portland mayor Sam Adams and then-governor Teddy Kulongoski practically danced a jig during their photo-op in front of the new corporate headquarters of thin-film solar panel company SoloPower. The company generously agreed to move its headquarters from California to north Portland after the two politicians waved a $40 million check at them.
It was clean, green&sustainable, and would bring hundreds of good-paying jobs to Portlanders. It never produced a product, and the headquarters is mothballed. The same scenario played out after Sam welcomed the new headquarters of innovative battery maker ReVolt to Portland with a $10 million check. The company installed a phone line in a trailer, then left. And the litany of losses continues.
In the past twenty years, Oregon has delivered an impressive number of grants to companies: 10,027 at last count.
Oregon ranks #4 overall in number of special tax handouts, despite having the 27th highest population. The authors noted that it's no coincidence that Oregon ranks so high in the cronyism report, and so low in the Rich States, Poor States report of earlier this year (#42 in overal economic outlook).
The state's been run for the past thirty years by Portland-area Democratics. No coincidence there, either. Ultimately, we're all paying - as will our children and grandchildren - for Portland politicians' stubborn and boneheaded efforts to select business winners (they must be green&sustainable businesses), despite their track record of spending our money to support losers.
It's long past time to insist that they stop the idiocy and focus instead upon providing the core functions of government: public safety and infrastructure.