I will be running for re-election to the Oregon House of Representatives for District 11 in 2016. I filed for the office on September 10 and am moving ahead with plans for the campaign.
There are huge issues facing Oregon.
I ran originally to help restore school funding in Oregon. The huge property tax cuts brought about by initiative in the 1990s were supposed to leave our schools unaffected. Instead they lead to the hollowing out of our public k-12 system, reduced our capacity to fund early childhood education, and forced huge increases in tuition at our universities and community colleges. We have made some progress. My bills that became Measures 66 and 67 in 2010 have helped reduce the carnage. In the last several sessions of the Legislature it has been a Democratic priority to protect and grow school funding. Doing so has been very difficult but we have added back billions of dollars after the recession-forced cuts in 2009.
In 2016 we have a chance to restore those long-ago cuts in k-12 and hold the line on (perhaps even lower) tuition and fees at our universities and community colleges as well as improving school readiness for our youngest vulnerable children. The Legislature will not do this work. You will!
Because a Republican inspired constitutional amendment weakened the Legislature’s capacity to close tax loopholes that favor big business and the rich as well as adjust our tax system to increase fairness and rates on those who pay vastly less in Oregon than elsewhere, the Legislature cannot do the work. If you sign the petition, there will be a measure on the 2016 General Election ballot that will move Oregon’s taxes on very large corporations from dead last among the states to about 40th, tied with Alabama. Because these taxes will mostly involve huge out-of-state corporations most of the tax will be absorbed by reducing national profits a tiny amount or be spread out across the country. Because Oregon’s taxes on these businesses are so low now Oregonians effectively subsidize schools and other public services in other states with higher taxes. Big business has only a very small capacity to raise prices because it must compete with local small business that does not pay the proposed tax. You can be sure that big business already charges what it thinks you will pay!
I intend to support this initiative strongly during the 2016 campaign.
The other key issue facing Oregon and the world is the crisis of climate change. Human caused changes in the composition of our atmosphere beginning with the Industrial Revolution starting almost 200 years ago threatens our seas, land, crops, our future as a civilization. Carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase while the dangers are becoming daily clearer. You might think I am gloomy about the future. Not so. We can have a prosperous world with clean air and water and a halt to atmospheric and ocean change if we work very hard at it for the next several decades, but we must get going on the work NOW.
In 2015 I sponsored HB 3470, a bill to establish a cap and trade system patterned after the successful acid rain cap and trade system that has been very successful in reducing sulfur oxides. California enacted a similar law nearly a decade ago. In the last year California has reduced carbon emissions while the economy continued to improve. Many individuals, environmental groups, and businesses are working on this problem. All who are paying attention understand that it is the responsibility of all of us to do our part to reduce GHG emissions, and do what we can to mitigate the inevitable changes that existing atmospheric changes have already caused.
We must stop adding GHG to the atmosphere as fast as possible. That means ending the use of fossil fuels for heat, electric generation, transportation, and nearly everything else as fast as is possible. Failure means our grandchildren live badly in a very changed and inhospitable world. Success means clean air and water, cheap energy, and a high standard of living based on sustainability not mindless consumption.
Is HB 3470 a part of the solution? Yes, or something very like it. But the issue is pervasive. There is no silver bullet that will “solve” even Oregon’s very small part of the need to transition from a fossil fuel based economy to a long term sustainable one. I am constantly working on and supporting others work on the solutions. I am optimistic about our grandchildren’s future, but only if we seize it!
There are many other issues I am working on and others you will help me to see. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions and concerns and contribute to the campaign as a volunteer or financial contributor. Go to philbarnhart.com for more information.