Senator Chris Telfer, Candidate for Oregon Treasurer on her plans for reform
Candidate Profile Series,
With Oregon’s debt and deficits looming large, financial solutions and experience are in high demand. Chris Telfer, an entrepreneur, Certified Public Accountant, former Bend Councilwoman, and current State Senator, thinks she has both. She’s running for State Treasurer because she wants to use her expertise to help solve Oregon’s financial problems through flexible long term planning, and encouraging instate bond investment. She also believes financial transparency would increase accountability and proper financial management.
According to the State Treasurer website, the treasurer, “serves as the chief financial officer for the State and is responsible for the prudent financial management of billions of taxpayer dollars.” Senator Chris Telfer’s vision for the office of Treasurer is one word: transparency. The Treasurer is supposed to act as the Chief Financial Officer for the entire state, but that is not something that is being done. “I would organize one repository in the state to which all the units of governments, the agencies, report, and make that information available online all in the same place. Right now agencies report in different formats and not comprehensively, so no one really knows what the financial status of the state is on any given day. I once asked the Legislative Fiscal Office how the state was doing financially that day, and they said, ‘We don’t really know—if there were a problem presumably we would hear it from an agency.'” Senator Telfer wants what she calls “true fiscal oversight” for the state. She says the problem with the treasury is that it doesn’t do cash flow analysis and thus doesn’t have any input in the budgetary process.
Recently, Governor Kitzhaber stated that he “wants the state to look at six- to eight-year budget planning cycles to better prepare for the future.” Senator Chris Telfer agrees that this is a good idea. As a Bend Councilwoman, she implemented a long range financial planning process. She stresses, however, that these plans and projects must remain flexible. “The demands of the economy and the needs of citizens change.”
With Oregon facing a $577 million in deficits, many want to reevaluate how things are done in Salem.
As Oregon Treasurer, Senator Chris Telfer says she would concentrate on protecting Oregon debt levels. She argues that the state needs to establish goals and work with the resources it has to meet those goals. Senator Telfer wants to provide the state with strategic planning. If elected, she says, “I’d make sure we protect the treasury and taxpayers from borrowing to much to balance the deficits. I’d make sure we protect our bond rating and debt level.” “Oregon does not have a revenue problem,” she says, “It has a spending problem.” “We need to revamp our entire budgeting process. Instead of trying to maintain current levels we need to look at the end result and figure out how to get there. I’d look at outsourcing some things. Washington County, for example, has not been hit as hard by the revenue shortfall because of the number of jobs they have contracted out.”
Senator Chris Telfer wants to “Actually make the Office of Treasurer worthy, by assisting the governor and legislature in developing a balanced budget. Mostly the state treasure has been a figurehead position in the past,” she says. “I want to change that.”
Oregon currently has 67 billion in assets and bonds invested outside the state. Senator Chris Telfer argues that “It would be prudent to invest more of this in Oregon. Shave off a little bit and put it in our local communities and banks.” “Our investment councilors,” she explains, “are wined and dined to invest money back east. I would bring a halt to that. I want to look at our investments objectively. We have business in Oregon that are worthy of investments and that would generate strong returns.”