Democrats Deliver for Oregonians in February Session

By Senator Diane Rosenbaum and Representative Tina Kotek of Portland. Sen. Rosenbaum is the Senate Majority Leader and Rep. Kotek is the House Democratic Leader.

As Oregon’s first annual legislative session approached, we spent months listening to Oregonians across the state. We heard firsthand what is needed to bolster our economic recovery and we responded with practical plans focused on creating jobs, protecting middle-class families, and prioritizing the services Oregonians need. While it was a short, fast-paced legislative session, House and Senate Democrats came through with an impressive list of accomplishments putting Oregon families and small businesses first.

The foreclosure crisis stood out as an issue we couldn’t ignore. We knew we had to stand up for struggling families and communities across the state, and we were determined to pass reforms to keep people in their homes and hold Wall Street banks accountable. In the final hours we pushed through a strong reform package to end dual track foreclosures, require mandatory face-to-face mediation, hold banks accountable, help families keep their houses, and stem the devastation of the housing crisis. We count this as a major victory of this short session.

We also came through for small businesses this session when we passed bills increasing access to much-needed business capital. By expanding the Credit Enhancement Fund and passing the Oregon Investment Act, we will improve the flexibility of Oregon’s economic development resources, helping businesses grow and create jobs. We worked together to coordinate the state’s workforce development and training system and increased accountability in public contracting to make sure projects are awarded fairly. Finally, we’re putting people to work and improving our workforce training capacity by investing in construction projects on community college campuses statewide.

Some predicted that the budget would be the sole focus of this Legislative Session, rather than important policy discussions. Yet we succeeded on both fronts. Rebalancing the budget, we focused on the services that Oregonians count on every day. To ensure every possible dollar gets to those vital services, we clamped down on sweetheart deals in public contracts, reduced middle management, and began untangling the costly web of background check systems. In these tough times, we put resources to schools, public safety, senior programs, and other critical services Oregonians need.

We are proud of these victories and of our success in blocking expensive and unrealistic schemes. We stopped expensive tax giveaways that Oregonians don’t want and Oregon can’t afford. We said no to costly proposals that would create no jobs in the near term. Instead, we enacted practical solutions to get people working right away, help small businesses, and put middle-class families first.

We were successful this February Legislative Session because Oregon’s priorities were our priorities. This was a great and historic session for Oregon, but we’re just getting started. Next year, we will return to the Capitol to continue fighting for Oregon’s middle-class families, creating a climate where businesses thrive, and prioritizing public schools. These are the priorities we continue to hear from Oregonians, and these will remain the priorities of Democrats in your State Legislature.

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    If the SCOTUS overturns Health care reform, there will be tremendous pressure and expectation on the Governor and the Dem. Majority to create a single payer system in Oregon. Do you have the leadership courage and creativity to do that?

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    Thank you. It did seem like a lot got done in such a short session, and I was very pleased that vital services to seniors and others in need were mostly protected.

    As a future customer of the healthcare insurance exchange, I am delighted that Oregon is taking a pro-active approach to getting is healthcare exchange up and running.

    And as a woman, I am absolutely thrilled that not a single female Oregonian was threatened with an unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound!

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    "We put resources to schools". What? The legislature created a costly new school law which won't help children one bit, and, in fact, might cause a lot of damage since it will be the focus of education in Oregon for some time to come and accomplishes little if anything. So, yes, the legislature did some good things. But don't count education in that list. It doesn't deserve to be there. The support for the Governor's plan was purely political -- Oregon's kids got shafted again. Well, they don't vote, I guess.

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