Come Cycle on Saturday!



Rep. Michael Dembrow 
NE Portland, Maywood Park & Parkrose

Phone: 503-986-1445


E-Newsletter                              September 13, 2011

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

Hope all is well with you.

Just a few days to go before our annual Bike Town Hall! 

It’s this Saturday morning (see details below).  This will be a chance for you to join Senator Dingfelder and me, along with other leaders and neighbors from HD45 and HD46.  Right now the weather promises to be cool and dry—perfect for 90 minutes of biking and hearing about local community projects and challenges.  Hope you can be there.

I’m excited for the third edition of the ride, which will be kicking off at Wilshire Park on NE 33rd at 10 AM on Saturday.  We’ll have coffee from Ristretto roasters and donuts available to munch on, and keep the speechifying to a minimum.  The ride will start at 10:30, with stops in the Cully, Beaumont-Wilshire, Rose City Park and North Tabor neighborhoods.  We’ll be finished by 12:30, enjoying coffee at Seven Virtues courtesy of their owner and the North Tabor Neighborhood Association.

I’m attaching the media advisory for the event, and I hope to see you there on Saturday.  Of course, if you’re not interested in riding with us, you’re still welcome to come for the kickoff and have a cup of coffee at the park at 10.  And, I’ll also still be holding my regular constituent coffee on the first Saturday of October.

A few other quick updates:

We had a surprisingly large turnout at our last constituent coffee on September 3—surprising for the Saturday afternoon of Labor Day Weekend.  There was clearly a great deal of concern about the recently-enacted changes to the state’s senior property tax deferral program.  We discussed that at length, as well as the implications of the recent state revenue forecast.  I’ll be sharing information about both in this newsletter.  We also heard concern about potential cuts to Multnomah County’s mental health programs as a result of reduced state and federal budgets.  Read more about that below as well.

The changes to the Senior & Disabled Property Tax Deferral Program continue to be a source of concern among many of you, and I continue to hear from constituents who are being affected.  We had a great conversation about it at the coffee, and several good recommendations emerged, which I’ll be sharing with other legislators and the Dept. of Revenue.  Know that this is an issue that I plan to stay on top of, and I’m working to find potential solutions for the Legislature to act on in February.    We also need to ensure that seniors who are being affected won’t be squeezed by the County to “pay up” between now and when the legislature has a chance to make changes to the program next year.  To read more about this issue, check out my website.

Another recent change has caught some off-guard.  Oregon’s Dept. of Revenue sometimes uses private collections firms (PCFs) to recover unpaid tax debt.  In the past, the state has picked up the tab for the fees charged by the PCFs.  As of the end of this month, that is changing.  People with unpaid taxes will now bear the cost of the PCF fees, in addition to the amount of their back taxes, if the state sends their debt to collections.  However, if you have unpaid debt you’re not completely out of luck.  If you either pay the debt, or enter into a payment plan with the state before October 1st, you can avoid paying these fees.  Click here to read more from my website on these collections fees.

September Revenue Forecast:  A Tale of Two Economies

You probably heard about the release of the latest state revenue forecast.  The Office of Economic Analysis looks at a variety of factors—income tax receipts, state and national unemployment rates, the stock market, inflation rates—and then tries to project where the state budget will be at the end of the current 2011-13 budget.  They are currently projecting that the General Fund will be down by $200 million from what was projected last May, in the previous quarterly forecast.

That is not to say that Oregon’s income tax revenues are down; they are not.  Everything presently suggests a continued projection for a slow but steady recovery here.  Though it may not feel that way for many Oregonians, our state is actually among the higher states for job growth (we’re #12), and manufacturing and exports are up.

However, Oregon doesn’t exist in a vacuum – uncertainty in the national economy and weakness in the stock market caused the projected $200 million drop.  If things start to improve nationally, and we continue on our path to recovery here in Oregon, we should be OK.  At this point, there is no need for further budget cutting, but we need to remain cautious and see where things are by the time of the next forecast, in December.

You can click here to read the complete forecast, or here to view a Powerpoint summary.

County Struggles to Maintain Mental Health Programs

I know that many of you are concerned about the status of the many human services programs funded by Multnomah County, given the end of federal stimulus money and the reduction in state allocations due to the budget shortfall.  These programs indeed face serious challenges, but the County is taking steps to keep most of them going at least for the next year.  Here’s a report on those steps from the excellent Lund Report, a blog devoted to health and human services in Oregon. 

From Rocky Butte to the Rockies

I’m proud to report that I’ve been selected to participate in the 2011 Western Legislative Academy, sponsored by the Council of State Governments-West, a 4-day training session for legislators in their first four years of service, held during the first week of October in Colorado Springs. CSG-West is a nonpartisan organization serving Western state legislators of both parties in 13 Western states. 

Admission to the Academy is very selective, and I’ll be one of only three legislators from Oregon attending, and one of 39 nationwide.  It’s a real honor.  I look forward to learning from my colleagues from other parts of the nation, and bringing some of that knowledge back to help my constituents in NE Portland, Maywood Park and Parkrose.

See you Saturday morning!



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