Speaking to the
Emerald Empire Kiwanis Club
The Legislative Session is now over. It went quickly but we
accomplished what we came here to do - rebalance the budget, make technical
fixes, and deal with emergency needs. There is no greater emergency in
Oregon than the need for job creation. Business Oregon's Director, Tim
McCabe wrote a response letter to the Mayor of Chicago on Oregon's business
climate I couldn't resist sharing. Click here to check it out. Next week's
e-newsletter will highlight and summarize the jobs bills we passed.
Senator Prozanski and Representative's Barnhart, Beyer and Holvey for
a Town Hall meeting to discuss the accomplishments of the Special Session.
9:30 am to 11:30 am
Springfield Council Chambers
225 5th Street
Springfield, OR 97477
Business Energy Tax Credit
HB 3680 - Reforms the business energy tax credit. Passed in
the House and Senate and now moves to the Governor.
Mortgage Lending Regulation
HB 3656 - Protects borrowers of 80/20 loans from being sued
for the second loan once their home has already been taken by foreclosure.
Passed unanimously out of the House and Senate. It will now go to the
HB 3706 - Gives the Attorney General the ability to prosecute lenders
for fraudulent and misleading lending practices by adding lenders to the list
of industries regulated under the Unlawful Trade Practices Act. Gives
additional protections to consumers and gives Oregon the ability to prosecute
national and out of state lenders. Passed the House and Senate and now goes
to the Governor.
Insurance Provider Regulation
HB 3666 - Encourages insurance companies to provide discounts to small
employer groups and individuals who choose to get insurance notifications
electronically. The bill increases efficiency and promotes cost
containment. Passed the House and Senate unanimously and now goes to the
Watch Rep. Barnhart's speech on
Oregon's Job Friendly Business Climate
I have received emails, heard from voters
by letter, and been stopped by voters on the street who want to know what is
happening with permanent funding for the Rainy Day Fund. Pretty much
everyone who understands our state budget and revenue system recognizes our
current system is flawed. A system by which one year revenue
underestimation results in refunds to tax payers followed by years in which
basic services are seriously weakened when they are needed most is unstable
and harmful to our economy.
During the Measure 66 & 67 campaign I thought we would be moving rapidly
to propose a constitutional amendment to take underestimated revenues and
deposit them into a real rainy day fund to help provide basic services when
the economy and revenues are down. Such a plan would keep the best
feature of the current law - the limitation on legislative spending provided
by the revenue estimate, while changing the existing law so that we can save
for a rainy day. If such a law had been in effect in 2007 we would have
had $1 billion more in the Rainy Day Fund and would have been in much better
shape for weathering this crisis without a tax increase.
What happened? I greatly regret not going ahead with that referral, but
I also agree with the decision. We have learned from long often bitter
experience that to win such an election we need several things to come
together. The most important: a very significant majority of voters, as
reflected in good polling data, need to favor a change for it to pass.
In June polling data for Measures 66 & 67 showed likely voters favored
the ideas by 68 - 70% with about 20 % opposed. The final vote was
roughly 20% less at 54%. The current polling in favor of creating a
robust Rainy Day Fund using surplus revenue is about 58%. Accounting
for a 20% shrinkage rate leaves the "yes" side with less than a
In order to pass this very necessary change in our Constitution, hard work
will have to be put into educating Oregonians so more people understand that
giving up a few dollars in good times can help protect safety nets and basic
services for their families in bad times.
When I came to the Legislature I thought school funding could be fixed in one
session. It turned out to be much harder than I thought. We must
be smart, patient, and hard working to pass reforms to create a robust Rainy
Day Fund. Let's get to work and not give up until it is done. Our
state, our children, and our grandchildren depend upon it.