April 26, 2017 Newsletter

Rich Vial

April 26, 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The first chamber work session deadline was April 18th.  Any bills that did not receive a work session by that date are no longer able to move forward.  Between now and the end of session, legislators will increasingly turn their attention to balancing the budget and passing a transportation package.  Here is an update on each of these items, as well as what has been happening in the Capitol and in the District.

2017-19 Budget

You may recall that, on January 19th, the Co-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means released their Existing Resources Budget Framework, which states that expected revenues during the 2017-19 biennium will fall approximately $1.6 billion short of what is needed to maintain current service levels, despite the fact that the State of Oregon has more revenue now than it ever has before.  On April 17th, those same Co-Chairs released their Target Reduction List, which proposes how legislators can potentially balance the budget without increasing taxes or fees.  On April 21st, the committee’s Cost Containment Work Group released a list of other ideas for how the State can rein in future spending.  That list includes both specific proposals and broad principles like hiring freezes, taking steps to reduce PERS costs, and prioritizing the preservation and maintenance of existing infrastructure over new construction.

I appreciate the effort that the Joint Committee on Ways and Means and its various work groups have put into providing legislators with this information.  In addition to some of the structural changes outlined in the Cost Containment Work Group’s list, however, I believe that an eventual long term solution to our budget challenges should allow us to invest in programs that will provide the state with additional revenue through future economic growth, such as career and technical education (CTE) and other programs supported by Measure 98.  I believe it is only right that our state demonstrates it is exercising fiscal responsibility and honoring the will of the voters before asking more from its taxpayers, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find a balanced solution to these challenges.

Transportation Package

This session, the Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization has been tasked with proposing a transportation package for the legislature to vote on.  So far, the committee has heard presentations from each of its five work groups, including Highway Preservation, Maintenance and Seismic Upgrade, Public Transportation and Public Safety, Multimodal Freight, Congestion, and Accountability.  Although I am not a member of this committee, I have tried to attend as many meetings as possible and have been particularly interested the preservation, maintenance, and congestion relief efforts that are being discussed.

It is estimated that the final transportation package will contain approximately $5 billion worth of projects over ten years and, while nothing has officially been decided on, it is believed that those projects will be funded by some combination of increases in the gas tax, vehicle registration fees, and a new vehicle excise tax.  During these work group presentations, it was stated that, in order to address all of the state’s preservation, maintenance, and seismic-related issues over the next twenty years, we would need to raise the state’s gas tax by a whopping 54 cents per gallon.  While I certainly do not support raising the gas tax by such a drastic amount, I find it is a stark indication of how far behind the State is in caring for its existing infrastructure.

Knapp, Callaway, Doyle

On April 24th, I met with Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp, Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway, and Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle to discuss the legislative priorities of Metro's Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT). From this meeting and others like it, it has become clear that the top priorities for relieving congestion in this transportation package include widening I-5 through the Rose Quarter, widening I-205 from Stafford Road to the Abernethy Bridge, and widening OR-217 south of Beaverton.  While these projects are certainly needed and should be addressed, there are obviously many more bottlenecks in the Portland Metropolitan Area, including I-5 through the Terwilliger Curves, I-5 across the Boone Bridge, US-26 through Beaverton and Hillsboro, and OR-99W through the Newberg-Dundee area.  From my observations, the State simply does not have access to the amount of money needed to address all of the projects that warrant our attention.  So, while I am committed to helping the Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization to pass a transportation package this session that is as effective as possible, I believe we need to do much more to prepare for the population growth that is expected in our region over the next twenty years—and I will continue working to find innovative and forward-thinking ways of accomplishing just that.

In the Capitol

Vial Sisters

On Wednesday, April 19th, my son Nic brought three of my grandchildren, Ava, Bree, and Sierra, to the Capitol to participate in the Honorary Page Program.  While they were here, they learned all about our state government and had a lot of fun touring the building.  I even had the pleasure of introducing them to my colleagues in the House during our daily floor session, which you can watch a video of here.  If you know anyone between the ages of twelve and eighteen who might also be interested in this opportunity, you can encourage them to learn more and apply online here.


Thursday, April 20th, was Oregon State University Day at the Capitol.  Throughout the day, students from the College of Pharmacy conducted free health screenings in the main lobby of the building, and I got to meet with several students from my district to discuss their school's legislative priorities this session. It was great to hear from folks who are so knowledgeable and passionate about higher education in our State.  In addition, the OSU Meistersingers gave a fantastic performance at the beginning of our daily floor session, which you can watch a video of here.  Go Beavers!

During that same floor session, Representative Janelle Bynum and I successfully carried HB 3267, relating to transient students.  This bill will make it easier for students who are classified as homeless, runaway, or in foster care to graduate from high school.  The bill passed unanimously in the House and now moves to the Senate for consideration.  You can watch a video of Representative Bynum's and my floor speeches here.

In the District

4-20-2017 Town Hall

On Thursday, April 20th, Senator Kim Thatcher, Representative Bill Kennemer, and I held a town hall meeting in the Council Chambers of the Wilsonville City Hall.  About 75 people attended the meeting including Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp, Tigard Mayor John Cook, and Washington County Commissioner Bob Terry, leaving standing-room only.  We provided a mid-session update and answered questions from attendees about issues ranging from funding our K-12 education system, ensuring the fairness of our elections, and whether we should limit noneconomic damages in civil lawsuits.  I appreciate those who attended for being engaged in the legislative process, and I want to extend a special thanks to the City of Wilsonville for hosting us.

I urge you to continue sharing your views by emailing me at rep.richvial@oregonlegislature.gov, or by calling my office at (503) 986-1426.  I welcome your input and value your perspective.  As always, I am honored to serve as your State Representative.




Capitol Phone: 503-986-1426
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-484, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: Rep.RichVial@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/vial