Representative Linda Flores Urges Governor to Reduce State Fuel Costs

[State Representative Linda Flores Press Release]

(Salem) “Many Oregonians don’t know whether they can afford to take a trip across town this Fourth of July weekend, let alone a vacation across the state or the nation,” said State Representative Linda Flores (R- Clackamas). “I worry about families struggling to make ends meet, about our small businesses that rely on tourism, and whether state agencies will have to cut critical services due to skyrocketing fuel costs. It’s time to make changes.”

“There appears to be no end in sight to the recent trend for rising gas prices. That is not only troublesome for consumers trying to get to work and put food on the table for their families, but also for taxpayers worried about the impact on the cost of running government programs,” Flores wrote in a letter to Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski today. Flores urged the Governor to “take the lead and help keep a lid on these costs” by implementing some of the reforms used by other states.

Representative Flores said, “I hope our Governor will follow the example set by the Governor of Utah to change a large portion of state agencies to a four-day week.” The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports several states allow some of their staff to work a shortened workweek. NCSL estimates two dozen states have budget deficits caused in part to high energy costs.

Several colleges and city governments are also using the “4-10″ system, where employees work 10 hours a day, four days a week. In addition to flexible scheduling, in her letter Flores suggested, “more telecommuting, conference calls, video conferencing, and reducing the number of trips for conferences. Other ideas include increased promotion for the online services the state already provides and development of more web based programs. You could even reduce the amount of grass mowed at state parks and turn up thermostats in state buildings while encouraging employees to wear cooler, more comfortable clothing.”

Oregon state government has taken steps to reduce fuel consumption such as converting one-third of the Department of Administrative Services Fleet to alternative fuels: a total of 1,372 hybrid, ethanol, or natural gas vehicles. However, the jump in fuel expenses is still taking a toll on state programs. According to the Legislative Fiscal Office most agencies have not budgeted for these higher prices and will have to absorb the additional costs. For example, the Oregon Sate Police budget assumed gas would be at $2.70 per gallon. Even though the state gets a discount for purchasing bulk fuel, it’s still close to $3.90 per gallon. That’s a 45% increase in the past year.

During the 2008 Special Legislative Session a new law was adopted directing state agencies to reduce the amount of energy used in state buildings 20 percent by 2015. The Governor called for a similar effort in a 2006 Executive Order. In addition the Governor issued a Commuter Challenge to state workers and unveiled an energy plan last month which stated: “The Governor recognizes that the State of Oregon can lead by example and invest in energy efficiency.” Flores concluded her letter by challenging the Governor. “I am calling on you to do just that. Show Oregonians that state agencies can implement ways to reduce fuel expenses so their budgets don’t get so strained they are forced to reduce services.”

  • Jerry

    One wonders why this green governor has not mandated Toyota Prius vehicles for all state government employee use AND for the state highway patrol. Once again, he is missing in action. Has anyone seen this guy lately? Is he ever around? Just wondered.

    And what does he drive when he is getting out of town?

    • Thomas


      I am all for the State of Oregon reducing it’s operating costs.

      Unfortunately the Toyota Prius is still to expensive to be cost effective.

      The Toyota Corolla would actually be less expensive for the state to operate over a 10 year period of time.

      The gas savings of the Prius verses the Corolla does even begin to make up for the $6,000 additional purchase price of the Prius.

      • Jerry

        Ford Focus it is, then, as Oregon should at least purchase made in the USA!

        • Sakaki

          Actually, most Toyotas are now made in places like Tennessee or Colorado.

          Toyota is now as American as Chrysler.

    • zeke

      History has proven that government and efficiency are not compatable. One could also include conscience, honor, and accountability.

      Ted isn’t MIA, he’s still searching for his non-existent legacy!

  • Joanne Rigutto

    I too think it would be a good idea for the state to switch part of its fleet of vehicles over to more fuel effiecient vehicles. Perhaps hybrids for the passenger vehicles and for the larger vehicles that need to be 4WD or need to haul loads, such as pickups, etc. they could switch over to that diesel that have the engine that shuts half of it’s cylinders down when cruising at speed. I don’t remember who makes it, but I’ve heard from some people who have test driven them and I have heard that they get excelent mileage. Switching over to more fuel efficient vehicles earlier than the state would under a normal replacement schedule might make sense for those vehicles that rack up lots of mileage every week, but doesn’t make so much sense for vehicles that are driven infrequently unless you’re switching those particular vehicles at the end of their normal service life.

    The idea of a 4-10 shift is a good one too. I don’t know how the public employees union contract is written, but if it’s written anything like the Bricklayers and Allied Crafts contract was back when I was in the BAC, then employees on a 10 hour shift would be paid straight time. Our contract was worded so that any hours in the normal shift, which could be as long or short as the contractor or sometimes the crew decided it would be, were paid straight time, any hours over 40/week were at time and a half, and Sundays and the major holidays were double time.

    I like the teleconferencing/telecommuting ideas too. When it comes to efficiency changes, I think many if not most branches and departments in government are a targe rich environment….

  • eagle eye

    I would have to know how much energy costs are and what fraction of the state budget they are. Also how much money would actually be saved for example by going to a 4 day week. It’s pretty murky in this press release.

    I don’t see how a 4 day week is going to help with the highway patrol, or help with the costs of going on a vacation.

    • dean

      Eagle….you always ask to many good questions.

      But seriously, I would think a sufficient reason to allow a flex schedule with some work at home allowance is to save on oil AND to reduce road congestion, irrespective of its impact on the state budget. This is one of the few no cost adaptations we can make in a high energy cost (dollars plus ecosystem) world. What is the downside?

      • eagle eye

        What is the downside? State services only available 4 days a week.

        We are not so impoverished nor the the “ecosystem” so endangered that we have to hunker down three days a week.

        And reduce road congestion and reduce gas consumption? By freeing the state employees for 3 days a week on the highways? I wouldn’t bet on it.

        • dean

          I guess I need to read the fine print, but a 4 day work week need not mean every worker works the same 4 days. When I worked for the Forest Service they had a max flex schedule, yet managers could make sure they always had people on duty when needed, yet within a flexible framework. For example, one might work Monday-Thursday, another Tuesday-Friday, and so forth. I don’t think the public suffered any inconvenience.

          They may or may not take to the highways on their days off, but it is unlikely they would choose rush hour times to drive in any case.