End of March Newsletter
Well, we are now at the end of March and I am still waiting to see the school funding bills. I have had many conversations with teachers, parents, and school board members and none of them knew that I introduced SB 671, that requested over $9.5 Billion for K-12. Even after hearing this, the question wasn't "what do we need to do to help you get this bill passed?" The question was "are you going to support raising taxes to fund education?" The issue is we have sufficient revenue forecast for the 2017-2019 budget but education funding is not the #1 priority of Legislative leadership.
At this date in the session, I would have expected we would have quality legislation ready to pass regarding PERS, transportation, and legislation to support business. Not so. Most of the bills we have passed from the Senate are of minor importance. It appears that any funding packages will wait until after tax season to see what we have to spend. We already know that we have $200M more than the early budgets, which means we have approximately $20.8B to spend. A huge increase over the $18.9B we had last biennium, but apparently not enough for the insatiable appetite of government.
[See Links Provided Below for More Information]
Senator Olsen giving Gladstone Kraxberger Middle School students a lesson in civics and a brief history on the Oregon State legislative process.
Other Concerns I have
I would also like to discuss the importance of energy to our state. There is a huge push to tax or charge CO2 emissions in our state through a cap and trade program. This from a state that produces ¼ of 1% of all the world's CO2. It is not the reduction that drives the movement, it is the money. As they always say, "Follow the money." Take money from the producers of products and the job creators and give it to "disadvantaged communities." I have heard this over and over how that would create jobs in these communities. My question to those that make this statement is, "Why can't we create new jobs without losing existing jobs?" There is continual silence to the answer. Oregon is not a leader in this area. We are following the lead of other states and provinces with very liberal agendas, to make Oregon fall in line and pay for carbon. We are not California and the question must be asked, "Do we want the cost of living in California to come to Oregon?" I think if Oregonians were asked this question, they would not want it. That is just my opinion, but I will warn you that if this legislation passes, you will see gas prices increasing to match California at a minimum. You will also see those companies that pay for CO2 emissions leave our state and put their employees on the unemployment rolls. Be aware also that these charges would be applied to your residential electric and natural gas bills.
Please pay attention to this proposed carbon legislation and let your voices be heard. Do we steal billions of dollars out of the economy to pay for these boondoggles with no environmental benefits or do we help Oregon industry by finding technologies that will reduce their CO2 outputs? I personally support the latter and not the former.
It appears as if the strategy to move carbon bills is to give them minimal public discussion this session and then reintroduce and pass them in the short February 2018 Session. There is a history of this political maneuver used to pass controversial legislation.
Let’s hope the April newsletter will have some happier news that good legislation that supports Oregonians will be on the move. Until then!!!
My Veterans Priority Bills
SB 694 — Adjust existing property tax exemptions for disabled Veterans to keep up with the current property values and taxes.
SB 676 — Requires organization that has related apprenticeship program to give credit toward apprenticeship for qualifying individual Veteran's experience in plumbing, pipefitting, steamfitting or heating ventilation air conditioning while in active duty in the armed forces.
SB 796 — Permits Veterans who are issued Oregon Wounded Warrior parking permit or person transporting person issued parking permit to park motor vehicle in any public parking zone restricted as to length of time permitted therein without incurring overtime penalties and to park motor vehicle in any public parking zone with metered parking without being required to pay any parking meter fee.
SB 670 — Relating to concealed handgun licenses for service members.
SB 320 — Appropriates moneys from General Fund to Oregon Military Department for Oregon Military Museum. It encompasses 14,000 artifacts of all services, 30,000 library volumes and 750 cubic feet of documents that date back to the early 1860s and is currently closed to the public. This funding would open and draw tourism as Oregon's only official Military Museum.
SB 143 — Relating to provision of campus veteran resources; to help veterans successfully transition from military service to college life, succeed in college, complete educational goals, and transition from college to workforce and community.
SB 129 — Establishes Task Force on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Oregon.
SJR 20 — proposes an amendment to the Constitution that would require the Legislature to appropriate funds for Oregon's K-12 system by 65th day of regular session held in odd-numbered year and would prohibit legislator compensation if the appropriation is not passed.
SB 671 — appropriates $9,523,300,000 to the State School Fund.
SB 672 — appropriates funds to the Oregon Department of Education to award grants for career and technical education. Vocational Education.
SB 673 — appropriates $760,000,000 to public universities.
SB 674 — appropriates $589,000,000 to community colleges.
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Senator Alan Olsen
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