House Republicans Ready To Tackle State’s Problems

by House Republican Leader Kevin Cameron

Jan. 10, 2011 was a historic day in Oregon. Many will remember it as the day the Ducks came within a field goal of winning a national championship. I’ll remember it as a day when Oregon House of Representatives, split between 30 Republicans and 30 Democrats, came together and forged a historic agreement of co-governance.

I believe the House is well-suited to tackle the top three priorities this session: creating jobs, reforming government and balancing the budget.

The Oregon House will have co-speakers, co-chairs of policy committees and even “co-co-chairs” of the Joint Ways and Means Committee. The House passed new rules to give both parties control over the legislative process and to give all members a voice.  Only time will tell how this historic power-sharing agreement will work. I’m optimistic we can work together to balance the budget and pass policies that help put people back to work.

As the 2011 session begins, House Republicans were the first to come to the table with a “Jobs and Reform” agenda to help create jobs and make your state government more accountable and transparent.  Among our many ideas to help create jobs, we’ll propose a tax credit to businesses that hire unemployed workers. We’ll reintroduce the Main Street Incentive Plan to give property owners and businesses an incentive to hire Oregonians and reinvest in their properties.  In addition, we will introduce legislation to reduce Oregon’s capital gains tax rates (virtually the highest in the nation) to promote reinvestment in our economy. We’ll introduce measures to replace the job-stopping provisions of Measure 67 with reasonable corporate tax rates and provide tax relief to families and low-income Oregonians.

These measures may impact the budget. However, some of these measures will only cost state government if private-sector jobs are created. Our other measures will put more money back into Oregonians’ pocketbooks, which helps our economy and our local businesses. All of our measures create jobs and, over the long term, will generate more tax revenue to support vital public services.

House Republicans are also focused on government reform. We favor replacing the “business-as-usual” state budgeting process with a new system based on priorities and results. We’ll introduce measures to bring auditing functions into the Legislature to help us improve services and eliminate waste and abuse.  We support requiring the Legislature to “save money before it spends” by dedicating 1 percent of General Fund revenue to the Rainy Day Fund.  House Republicans appreciate the public service of state employees, but Oregon must bring escalating benefits and PERS costs under control.

The Legislature’s most important responsibility this session is passing a sustainable 2011-13 state budget. Oregon’s budget problems are due to past overspending and falling tax revenues due to a poor state economy. Balancing the budget will be difficult, but we are prepared to work with the new governor and Democrats and make the tough decisions. Oregon simply can’t afford a “decade of deficits” that will only further harm our economy.

With a 30-30 House and a slim Democratic majority in the Senate, the 2011 Legislature is more balanced and better equipped to address the major problems. If we are successful in putting Oregon back on the right track, Jan. 10, 2011 will be remembered for much more than college football.