Jeff Kruse

JUNE 30, 2017




Today is the last day of June and by law we must be finished no later than ten days from now.  Because the one absolute requirement the Legislature has is to pass a balanced budget, one would think that would be the total focus at this point.  However, what we are finding is something different.  Of the 14 bills scheduled for passage in the full Ways and Means Committee this morning only three are budget bills.  We continue to violate the principles of the legislative process by passing policy bills through the budget committee, which prevents both Chambers from dealing with these policy issues in the appropriate committees.  I guess the majority party doesn’t want principles to get in the way of their agenda.  At this point 5 people are in total control, the Governor, Senate President, Speaker of the House and the two co-chairs of Ways and Means.  With only ten days left they are still not telling us what their real plan is.  There is actually at least one committee who’s work we, as members of the Legislature, are prohibited from knowing what they are doing.  So much for openness and transparency. 


I do find it interesting where people go for real news.  What I have found is the internet is not a reliable source, and in many cases, neither is traditional sources.  Prime example at this point would the K-12 budget.  We are continuing to hear how we are underfunding the system and nothing could be further from the truth.  Schools had asked for 8.4 billion, and if you look at the base funding at 8.2 billion one could say we missed the mark.  However, that is not taking into account the two ballot measures that were passed on Career and Technical Education and Outdoor School programs.  When one adds those two budget items it brings K-12 closer to 8.5 billion dollars.  Clearly I would have preferred this money all be in the formula, but in reality, all schools will have access to these additional dollars.


The one necessary piece of the puzzle for many of us yet to be resolved is the transportation package, and it now appears we may have reached an agreement.  We still don’t know all the details simply because the bill hasn’t been printed yet, but I am hopeful.  As a member of the “gang of eight” that created the package two years ago, I do have some knowledge as to how this should be structured and I am just waiting to see it in black and white to make sure we are taking the State in the right direction.


In theory, here is where we are at this point.  We have now taken care of Medicaid with the provider tax.  We have funded education.  We have a transportation package.  We have a balanced budget without additional tax increases.  It is time for us to finish our work and leave all the social, nanny state issues for another time.  Unfortunately, I don’t get to make that decision.  My hope at this point is the leadership in the building will let us know soon what their plan is.  That may be wishful thinking.




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