MARY KREMER: Oregon needs new leaders

Guest Opinion by Mary Kremer
Lake Oswego Review
April 29, 2010

When I look at what has become of the Oregon I love, I am deeply concerned. When I moved here 20 years ago with my husband, a native Oregonian, to raise our family, the state of Oregon was a vibrant, dynamic place. Our public schools were the envy of the nation. Our economy was booming. Employers small and large provided ample opportunity for rewarding careers for us and for our children.

When our children went to college, I re-entered the work force and was shocked at how Oregon’s economy and our way of life have deteriorated. All but one of our Fortune 500 companies is gone. Unemployment is above 10 percent, and Oregon job creation is 47th in the nation.

We are number one in hunger, and near the top in homelessness.And we just raised taxes on many small businesses — the lifeblood of the Oregon economy, to 11 percent (70 percent of the individuals paying Oregon’s 11 percent tax rate are small business owners) and cut the K-12 school budget.

I decided I had to get involved. I don’t want Oregon to become a state where our children can’t count on finding rewarding careers when they graduate from college. That’s where we are headed. We can’t afford a decaying school system any more than we can afford a decaying business environment. In fact, these two things are related — and that is why I am running for the state Senate, to represent voters in this district and bring some business sense to the Legislature.

I have a business background. Before I had kids, I worked in the finance industry helping state and local governments invest their bond proceeds. So I know a little about cash flow.That’s one of our problems today — our government’s expenses exceed its tax income. We have a cash flow problem. Governor Ted Kulongoski warned us in his recent “State-of-the-State” address that “Oregon was speeding towards a budgetary cliff.”

The best way out of a cash flow problem is to find a way to increase revenue. For the state government, the best way to increase tax revenues is to grow the economy. The first 10 years I lived in Oregon, our state tax revenues more than doubled! Not so now. The only way that can happen again is if our businesses are doing well, growing their own revenues, providing career paths to our families and paying taxes. We can do this again!

I am perhaps a little different than most politicians running for office today. I want stable funding of schools and I want to work with the schools to ensure that those funds go to high impact priorities. We can’t ask our teachers to work in an environment where their very jobs hang in the balance of the next budget cut. It has an effect on morale in our schools just as it does in a business. That’s why I am such an advocate for a healthy business environment and a growing economy — that’s the only way we can afford the schools we want and the opportunity our kids need so they don’t have to move out of state to find gainful employment. Oregon is blessed with everything it needs to once again have a robust, dynamic and growing economy. We just need new leaders who understand that a healthy private sector is absolutely necessary if Oregon is going to once again take its rightful place at the top, rather than the bottom, of every important measure of well being.

Mary Kremer, Lake Oswego, is is a Republican candidate for state Senate District 19 (Tualatin, West Linn, Lake Oswego and a portion of Southwest Portland). To learn more about her campaign, visit