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Representative Phil Barnhart's E-Newsletter )
News from the Capitol July 20, 2005
in this issue
  • Budget Negotiations Continue
  • Infrastructure Consolidation
  • Department of State Police
  • Secretary of State
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Higher Education
  • Department of Agriculture
  • House Leaders Let Oregon Down
  • This is the eleventh e-newsletter that I will be sending out during the 2005 session of the Oregon State Legislature. The purpose of this newsletter is to keep you informed about the progress that the Legislature is making, and about the work that I am doing to represent House District 11 and to support the values that we all hold dear: educating and nurturing our children, supporting our seniors and disabled, and protecting our communities.

    Signature
    Phil Barnhart

    Budget Negotiations Continue

    The primary business before the Legislature is now budget negotiations. I frequently report on the K-12 education budget, as it is the main point of contention between the House and Senate, but in this issue I will report on several other budgets that have recently passed the House. We have already passed over 70 budgets, most of which have been non-controversial. We agree on most of the budgeting decisions before us, but below you will find a few that have been difficult.

    Infrastructure Consolidation

    HB 5166-A, one of Governor Kulongoski's proposals to increase the efficiency of Oregon State agencies, would consolidate the Department of Administrative Services' technological infrastructure. I supported this bill, along with nearly all of my colleagues, because it is an investment that will cut future State costs. Consolidating State data services would also increase public access to the wealth of data collected by the State, making it easier for Oregonians to learn about their government and to make use of State services. Increasing government accountability and efficiency has been one of my top priorities in the Legislature.

    Department of State Police
    State Police car

    HB 5167-A would cut 20 more Oregon State Police troopers. Oregon already has so few troopers that they cannot count on backup when they respond to dangerous situations. Most offices do not have 24-hour coverage with even one trooper. I resolutely oppose this budget reduction.

    Secretary of State

    HB 5152-A is a power grab by the House leadership to take over the Secretary of State's Constitutional responsibility for auditing State agencies. I voted against this budget for two reasons: the Legislature has a duty to abide by the Constitution, and agency auditing needs to remain an honest process that is overseen by an objective and accountable executive officer, rather than by political partisans in the Legislature. This Secretary of State listens carefully to legislators to determine which agencies to audit, and he performs his duties well.

    Department of Transportation
    Rail

    HB 5143-A would maintain most of the Department of Transportation's services, but would cut one of the Willamette Valley's two state-funded passenger trains. This is a huge mistake, and I voted "no." As oil becomes more expensive, and we all become more aware of the need to increase Oregon's energy independence, our passenger rail becomes progressively more important. One passenger train for the nearly two million residents of the Willamette Valley is completely inadequate.

    Department of Higher Education

    HB 5153-A would provide a woefully inadequate budget to the Department of Higher Education, forcing further program cuts and tuition hikes. We are losing good faculty who can make much higher salaries elsewhere. I will not support any budget that would do further harm to our students or to Oregon's economic future. The harm that this Legislature is doing to the Oregon University System could cost billions of dollars to repair, and sooner rather than later.

    Department of Agriculture
    Farm

    HB 5158-A would provide the funds necessary to cover most of the functions of the Department of Agriculture, except the Pesticide Use Reporting System. Fully funded, this system would allow us to better protect both our environment and agriculture. Fortunately, the Senate is expected to restore the necessary funds.

    House Leaders Let Oregon Down

    The leadership of the Oregon House of Representatives has attempted a new political tactic: adjourning for three days at a time in order to degrade the public perception of the Senate, which continues to work, while House members get a paid vacation. This tactic is going to backfire.

    What the public wants from the Legislature is not early adjournment. Oregon voters rightly expect that we will get the job done.

    With its three-day adjournment, the House has neglected many of the most important issues facing our state, including, but not limited to, clarifying and reforming Measure 37, ensuring strong schools and high-quality education (in public schools, community colleges and universities), increasing access to health care, and improving tax fairness for all Oregonians.

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    July 20, 2005