for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you today.
right to the chase. On election night Oregon voters elected me to lead the
state of Oregon. And at the same time they also defeated Measure 97 which I
think that puts a tremendous burden on me as your Governor to find another way
forward to fund the future of Oregon. But I’m here today to state clearly that
the price of victory is responsibility -- both for me and for you.
As we enter
this discussion I want to be clear that in communities across our state today,
we are failing many Oregonians – especially our children. Nearly half of Oregon children are born into
poverty. One in four students will not finish high school. And it is estimated that, this year, as many
as twenty-one thousand children in the K-12 system are homeless.
At the same
time, we continue to increase the burden on middle class families - with higher
tuition, increased fees and inadequate roads and bridges. State resources are
not keeping pace with these needs.
in the upcoming biennium, state government will again tighten belts and cut
expenses. We are now tasked to do more
with less. And we will.
But in the
long run, we can’t cut our way to prosperity.
We have a
gaping, $1.7 billion-dollar budget hole. Three-fifths of this is the cost of
providing healthcare to all Oregonians. One-fifth is the unfunded PERS
liability, and - equal to that - one-fifth is the unfunded cost of three new
The budget I
proposed last week is balanced -- no shortfall. It closes the $1.7 billion gap
with a combination of reductions in services and new revenue. This new revenue
is raised by increasing tobacco taxes, assessments on hospitals and insurance
companies to help pay for health care, and closing other loopholes in the tax
with revenue increases, this budget still contains major program cuts – very
tuition is likely to go up. It will take enormous effort to keep tuition hikes
from reaching double digits.
We may have
to close Oregon Youth Authority and state hospital facilities in Junction City
We have proposed to reopen a women’s prison due to overcrowding.
choice, I'd rather fund schools than open prisons. But under the current
constraints, I’m left with very few choices.
is only a short-term solution. So I want you to take it as the starting place
for a broader conversation about how to best align our limited resources with
our shared values and our vision for moving Oregon forward.
as your not-yet-elected Governor, I stood in this room and told each of you
that when there’s an economic downturn, we say we have to wait until the
economy is good before we address our unfair revenue structure.
when the economy is good, we choose not to address our unfair revenue structure
because we’re afraid it might hurt the economy.
your duly elected Governor, I come before you to say regardless of whether
we’re in good times or bad, we still need stable and adequate revenue for
the most expensive ballot measure campaign in Oregon’s history, many business
leaders, many of you in this room, told me that:
You want a
vibrant education system. One that prepares students to compete in the global
economy. I agree.
healthy communities. That ensure every family can thrive. I think that’s right.
strong infrastructure. That enables workers to get to their jobs safely and
products to get to market efficiently. Yes, I agree.
So we agree
on what we need, and why. We just didn't agree on how.
clear that Measure 97 wasn't the right solution. But, that doesn't change the
fact that we still need a solution.
So this is
my challenge to you. To come up with ideas, and proposals.
solutions that restore fairness and balance to our tax system.
solutions that don’t unfairly burden working families struggling to make ends
solutions that support economic growth in our rural communities.
demonstrated what you will NOT support -- I need to know what you CAN support.
What you WILL support.
going to have to be sacrifices on both sides.
telling you, if your only solution is to cut teachers’ salaries and renege on
our promise to retirees, then this conversation will not go very far.
In order for
this to work, you can’t begin and end the conversation with what others must
sacrifice, what others must give.
need to bring proposals to the table about what
willing to contribute.
We have to
come together and know that we are all on the same side.
make Oregon a better place for all of us to live.
mistake, I will lead but, I can’t do this alone.
We CAN solve
We must do