E. WERNER RESCHKE
For several weeks I have been advocating for rural Oregon in multiple conference calls per day with the Governor’s office, Congressman Walden, Oregon Health Authority, fellow Legislators and local community leaders.
As a member of House Republican leadership, I continue to advocate for reopening our state sooner, rather than later, in a safe and responsible way. One size does not fit all. That’s why I recommend reopening Oregon regionally, based on objective criteria within a particular community. It is critical to get our hospitals and healthcare professionals back to work helping others with non-COVID-19 related activities, including dental practitioners. I strongly support the idea of delaying the Corporate Activities Tax for at least two quarters allowing businesses to get back on their feet, before coping with the burden of a new and complicated tax.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted several areas of government that are woefully behind the times, due to the mismanagement of priorities from state government during the past decade. Two glaring examples are public education and unemployment insurance. Under-utilizing modern technology is a huge detriment. In the year 2020, we find a wide variety of online services available for banking, grocery shopping, purchasing household goods, watching movies, connecting with friends and many other daily activities. In contrast, the Department of Education was unprepared to provide systematic, quality remote learning for our children. Moreover, the inability to grade students by letter grade, versus only pass/no-pass, is completely unacceptable, especially when other states are offering this option. Many high school students need letter grades to be accepted into post secondary education institutions. Inflexibility of public unions to allow for summer school without costing school districts and working Oregonians additional dollars, must change.
For those who had to experience filing an unemployment claim, the process has often been stressful. Again, a shortfall in technology is largely to blame. The Oregon Employment Department was given $86 million 10 years ago to modernize its services and the 30-year old mainframe unemployment computer system — it has yet to to complete this critical update. This is a total failure in leadership. The Governor’s decision to shut down Oregon’s economy led to a massive increase in unemployment claims. Furthermore, the inability to properly staff Employment Department ahead of time, is very troubling.
It can be argued that how the Governor shut-down our economy, using arbitrary edicts through Executive Orders, was unconstitutional. I believe the safety of all Oregonians is important. However, the Governor’s actions have brought significant harm to thousands of Oregon businesses and tens of thousands of Oregon families. I believe when Oregonians are not working, Oregon does not work. We need to safely reopen up the areas in Oregon where the virus has had little real impact. We need to set clear guidelines, so businesses can reopen: region by region and then statewide. Oregonians need to return to work to be able to buy food, pay rent, make car payments, pay credit card bills, and utilities.
By our very nature Oregonians have a pioneering spirit and are ready to live life again — aware of, not fearful of, this pandemic. I am confident that we can adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19 and no longer need to hide from it.
Let’s reopen Oregon and move forward together.
900 Court St. NE, H-384. Salem, OR 97301 503-986-1456 | [email protected]