It is a great honor to represent you in the Oregon House of Representatives. We continue to face very serious challenges that arise from the world wide recession that continues to plague most of the United States including Oregon. We just received another bad revenue forecast from the State Economist that will force us to reduce the budget and cut services for Oregonians yet again.
The State Economist
confirmed that Oregon is in better shape because voters passed Measures 66
and 67. These two measures provided much needed funding to keep
teachers in the classroom, keep police officers protecting our streets, and
keep supporting services seniors rely on to stay in their homes and live
independently. We are better off today because Oregonians supported our
community by passing those two measures.
OSU Unveils Rural Energy Assessment Program
"The Energy Efficiency Center is now open to Oregon farmers and rural businesses...Those using the program save an average of 10 percent of their annual facility energy use, officials say." Read more.
The Latest Scam Alert
"Door-to-door magazine companies are a
perennial source of frustration for Oregon consumers, generating more than
150 complaints in the past year alone. Employees of traveling sales crews -
mostly young adults - sell magazines and other products door-to-door using a
variety of misleading sales pitches in order to obtain orders..."
"Oregonians looking to buy a home or
refinance their mortgage can go online to see if a mortgage lender has met
stringent new licensing standards..."
In case you missed it here is an interesting article from a Washington State Legislator talking about Oregon's approach to protecting and sustaining services for our most vulnerable citizens.
Business Oregon has partnered with the Pacific Northwest Defense Coalition to develop the Northwest Connectory. This is a creative tool made to connect manufacturers capabilities with business needs. Sometimes a manufacturer specializes in a particular area, but their tools and skill sets can be transferred to make other goods. "The Northwest Connectory is an on-line database that contains detailed profiles of Pacific Northwest companies across all industries at every level of the supply chain. The purpose of the tool is to link Oregon businesses to opportunities around the region via a robust, searchable, online "buyer-supplier" database." Read more.
The Oregon Health Authority wants your input as they work to develop the Health Insurance Exchange. Last year the Legislature worked to pass an overhaul of Oregon's health care to help rein in costs, increase access to care, create efficiencies, improve quality and save you money. The health insurance exchange will serve as the coordinated marketplace for Oregonians to purchase health insurance. Making comparisons between plans and coverage easier. Have a good idea on how to set up the exchange? Join them at one of their upcoming community meetings or visit their website to find out other ways to provide input. The next meeting is hosted in Corvallis on Wednesday September 1st from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Benton County Fairgrounds.
To strengthen workforce development and improve access to job opportunities the Oregon State Apprenticeship and Training Council has launched a new website to provide detailed information for our next generation of skilled workers. Check the site out here.
Town Hall Meetings In Review
Over the past 20 months I have hosted 22 Town Hall meetings. Most of the meetings I host have general topics and are open forums for questions and discussion, but the last four meetings I hosted covered very specific issues. There were great resources and information discussed in these meetings so I thought it would be good to do a quick recap for those of you who were unable to attend.
USDA Rural Development's State Director Vicki Walker and Business Programs Specialist Paul Cormier gave an excellent presentation on their over 40 programs available to support community needs concerning housing, hospitals, economic development, and more. Here is a matrix of programs available for rural development (essentially for businesses outside of the major metro areas: Portland, Eugene/Springfield, and Salem). You can check out the USDA Website here. I understand that sifting through program information to figure out what applies to you can be daunting, sometimes it is faster and more effective to contact someone directly. Click here to get contact information for a business specialist in your area.
A quality education - from the early stages through college - is the best way to build a healthy economy over the long term. Brian Rooney from the Employment Department gave us an overview on what economists predict our workforce will look like in the next 10 years. To view his hand out click here. David Mandell from the Children's Institute gave an enlightening presentation on the importance of early education. He talked about the importance of early education in a child's development and discussed a historical study to illustrate his point. Four year olds were given a marshmallow and told that if they ate it right now they would not get another, but if they waited to eat it until the researcher returned then they would get another marshmallow. They followed these children through their school years and found that children who had been able to delay gratification at age four performed better in school and were more successful at age 12 and 18. The lessons and skills children learn very early on, set them up for success later in life. Joy Marshall with Stand for Children talked about the reality that Oregon has the largest class sizes in the country because of our funding situation. Despite the need for more funding, she described other ways we could improve the quality of education now. Lastly President Mary Spilde of Lane Community College discussed how the college is working to meet the communities expanding need for health care workers and retraining skilled workers for a new energy economy. The college faces record enrollment at a time when funding is down. I continue my fight to create a Robust Rainy Day Fund to bring stability for public services when our community needs them most.
In order to jumpstart our economy we have to give local businesses a boost. In February the legislature did just that, passing bills like BOOST (Building Opportunities in Oregon for Small Business Today). Click here to get more information on other bills we passed to help small businesses. If you or someone you know owns or is thinking about starting a business check out the Business Resource Summit panelist's websites to get information on the resources their organizations have available. The All-Star panel included John Saris and Bob Warren - Business Oregon, Jack Roberts - Lane Metro Partnership, Dan Betschart - Lane Council of Governments, Jim Lindly - LCC Small Business Development Center, Caroline Cummings - Oregon Entrepreneurs Network and Smart-ups, and Shawn Winkler-Rios - eDev. Also here is resource from the USDA on financing your business. Let's Get Oregon Back to Work!
Following the Business Resources Summit I toured a local business that was able to utilize a Business Oregon Development Grant after suffering a major fire. Gheen Irrigation has been family owned and operated for almost 80 years. Read more about their story here.
Wall Street banks and financial institutions have corrupted our economic and political systems and taken advantage of hard working people. I was joined by Michael Selvaggio from the Treasurer's Office who discussed their work to bring justice against the firm who mismanaged the Oregon Opportunity Grant program and Sarah Allsbrooks from Our Oregon who discussed some of the state and federal measures put in place to re-regulate Wall Street. As a State Legislator I did not have a hand in the Federal Financial reform bill but thought I might get questions about it, so I brought this fact sheet from the White House to answer some of the basic questions. Here is a handout I put together to talk about my work to address this issue.