What I believe: I support candidates and ballot measures that promote policies that will help our working families, our children, and opportunity for all. That means that I supported the minimum wage increase, paid sick leave, as well as the increase in the tax credits for low income families with children that passed through the committee I chair during this last term. I support fair taxation. I support economic development that creates clean family wage jobs and helps reduce the huge income disparity between most families and the top 1%. I oppose discrimination in employment, housing, marriage, and other issues of importance to minorities. I support a swift transition from fossil fuel use and other activities that pollute our air and water to the use of renewable energy, sustainable farming and forestry. I support excellent public education from early childhood through technical training and grad school.
Jobs: In the last six years, we have put thousands of Oregonians back to work, bringing the unemployment rate from over 11.6% down to less than 5%. This is a great improvement, but there is still much work that needs to be done to help all Oregonians have the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families. By properly training the workforce of tomorrow, rebuilding our state’s infrastructure, and promoting economic growth, we can get more of the out-of-work and underemployed back in the workforce and bring about a brighter future for our children.
Education: The genius of America has always been our ability to provide everyone with a quality public education. The health of a community is determined by how we educate our children. Our children have suffered greatly because of budget cuts. I plan to continue fighting for funding for our schools, including opportunities for affordable community colleges, universities, and vocational programs. Protecting educational opportunities means that while we grow as a community, our children will have the critical thinking, literacy, and math skills necessary to live and work as productive members of society. The Oregon Promise which we adopted in the current term is bringing more students to community colleges free of the threat of huge debt to be repaid after graduation. We have made progress, but we need to do more.
Lowering Healthcare Costs: One of the greatest contributors to Oregon’s budget shortfall is the rise in health care costs in recent years. Through the creation of coordinated care organizations (CCO’s), our state is taking steps to help lower costs and expand coverage while improving quality of care. Oregon’s plan is well under way, the first of these CCO’s came online in July 2012. If we are successful, more people will be able to live healthier lives while private health insurance premiums go down. Ultimately, businesses and individuals will pay less for a healthier future- lowering costs, increasing our competitiveness in the world, and increasing jobs in Oregon. We still have a long way to go. The legislature needs to fine tune the CCO system to help fulfill its promise.
Climate Change: The biggest planetary change we must have is to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) into our air and water along with the other pollutants that come from burning fossil fuels and unsustainable agriculture and forestry. Not only do we face the catastrophic increase in local and global temperature, we have an immediate health crisis brought about by dangerously polluted air. With the lowering of costs for renewable energy production and distribution, which is now lower than coal fired electricity and gasoline, we can make a swift transition to a sustainable and clean economy and grow jobs and our economy at the same time. The greatest impediments are inertia and the active efforts of the old obsolete industries to slow or stop this essential transition. Oregon can still be in the forefront but we must pass bills that promote and foster the transition. We passed the coal to clean bill and the cleaner fuels bill which will help, but not enough. Our opponents say this effort is too costly. The reality is that costs are declining so fast that these two efforts can be completed at no net cost. We have a lot of work to do, but I am confident we can get it done.
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Together we can make a difference.