JUNE 2ND, 2017 - ANOTHER DEADLINE

Jeff Kruse

JUNE 2, 2017

 

ANOTHER DEADLINE

 

Before I get into this week I want to spend a minute talking about my legislative family.  Lexi Smith has been my chief of staff for over a decade and is a wonderful woman who does a very good job of trying to keep me on schedule.  She has been absent from the office for a bit of time now for a very good reason, although she has been quite capable of running things from home.  The reason for her absence arrived at 3:19 AM Wednesday morning.  A beautiful baby named Kaia Brooke.  Mother and daughter are both doing fine and our entire legislative “family” is looking forward to meeting this new young lady.

 

I wanted to mention this for two reasons, the first being that I am very proud of Lexi and I am very happy for her.  The second being the fact all of us as legislators are after all people with lives outside politics.  We can debate and disagree on issues, but we also have respect for each other.  I know that if any of my colleagues needed my help on a personal level I would be there for them, as I am sure they would be there for me.  Things are going to get very intense and contentious over the next month, but I wanted to point out there should always be a human component.

 

As for this week, as of today, all committees in both Chambers, except for Rules, Revenue, and Joint Committees are finished for the Session.  Normally this would have been a very hectic week with a lot of activity, but this year it was amazingly quiet.  I think the fact so many policy bills were sent to Ways and Means, which I mentioned last week, had a lot to do with that.  It will now be interesting to see how many of these policy bills will still have life in the budget committees.

 

The one significant event of the week was the passing of the K-12 budget bill out of the Education sub-committee of Ways and Means.  Because of paperwork issues the bill won’t be presented to the full Ways and Means Committee until next Friday, but at least schools now have a number to create budgets on.  The original co-chairs budget had the number at 7.8 billion, and I have been advising schools to budget at 8.0 billion.  The number as it now stands is 8.2 billion dollars.  Schools were asking for 8.4, so this is a roughly 10% reduction from that number.  We are suggesting we can make schools whole with PERS reforms, but it appears leadership and the Governor are not interested in doing anything real in this area.  This is where politics out weighs real policy and solutions.  The Governor is creating a taskforce to “study” the issue.  We already know what the solutions are, but it appears some think the next election cycle is more important than real solutions.

 

At this point it would be pure speculation as to what major policy issues will be brought forward over the next couple of weeks.  We should just be dealing with budgets, but I am sure we will see other issues as well.  The Speaker is still calling for two billion dollars in tax increases, even though there is a pathway to a balanced budget without tax increases.  In addition, she is taking a purely political position on the low carbon fuel standard that could jeopardize the transportation package.  From my perspective as a minority member of the Senate, it appears the Governor and the Speaker of the House are taking a hard line while the Senate President is trying to find middle ground.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few weeks.

 

Sincerely,

 

Senator Jeff Kruse

email: Sen.JeffKruse@oregonlegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1701
address: 900 Court St NE, S-205, Salem, OR, 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/kruse