Governor Kulongoski reveals big, progressive agenda for his final session.

Despite the statewide Obama-mania today, Governor Ted Kulongoski stuck to his schedule and gave a state-of-the-state address, and released an agenda for the 2009 legislation session intended to frame the 2008 legislative races. (Complete text here.)

First, he intends to bring back a cigarette tax for children's health care. From Eugene's Register-Guard:

Among the boldest proposals in Kulongoski’s speech is one that would revive his “Healthy Kids Plan,” including a cigarette tax to pay for uninsured children’s medical coverage.

Last year, his plan, including an 84.5 cents-per-pack tax increase, was put on the ballot by the Legislature as a constitutional amendment. The tobacco industry pumped a record-smashing $12 million into its successful effort to defeat the tax.

This time, Terhune said, Kulongoski will propose that about half the state’s 116,000 uninsured children receive coverage through the state general fund, and the rest be covered through the tobacco tax — which would be at some as-yet-unspecified amount that would be lower than the amount voters rejected last November when they defeated Measure 50.

Kulongoski plans to continue his push to reform Oregon's idiotic $10 corporate minimum tax:

Kulongoski’s other tax proposal also would revive an idea he pushed unsuccessfully in 2007 as a way to pump more money into Oregon’s rainy-day fund for government programs: It would raise the minimum income tax imposed on corporations.

That tax has stood at $10 a year since 1931.

Kulongoski wants the new minimum tax to vary based on a company’s size and sales in Oregon. The proposal hasn’t been fully fleshed out, but the 2007 version, which failed to win sufficient support in the Legislature, would be a starting point.

That version would have imposed new taxes of at least $25 and up to $5,000, depending on the company’s size and in-state sales.

[Chief of staff Chip] Terhune said such a move, which would generate an additional $42 million a year, “is absolutely essential for Oregon’s fiscal health.”

He also wants to provide re-entry services to returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. From the Business Journal:

Kulongoski, a former U.S. Marine who attends all funerals of Oregon soldiers, sailers, airmen and Marines who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, also wants to create an Oregon GI Bill for all National Guard members.

"We keep asking the Oregon National Guard to do more for us," he said. "We need to respond in kind, by making sure we do more for them."

He's also pondering ways to combat global warming - especially by promoting electric cars. From the Oregonian:

But he says gas taxes are becoming an outdated way of paying for an increasingly overloaded transportation system. He wants a more futuristic approach, one that takes concerns about climate change into account.

That's where his ideas on electric cars come in.

Electric cars, he says, are the future of urban transportation, and he plans to check some out when he goes abroad on a trade mission next week. ...

"Within 150 and 200 miles of your home, it has been proven . . . that electric cars can be very viable," Kulongoski says. Not only that, but anyone who has ever lived in the Midwest, or any cold climate, can attest that plugging in your car (to keep the oil warm) is part of daily life.

"It isn't new," he says, breaking into another big smile. "The technology is there. Everyone's got an outlet in their house."

The idea that wraps all this stuff together is "The Oregon Challenge" - Kulongoski's idea that we need to shift Oregon's economy toward renewable energy and high tech companies. From Willamette Week:

The top of the list: To answer the "Oregon Challenge ."

Gov. K's solution to this challenge is to invest in education and train more workers to find employment in those ever-emerging industries like clean technology and renewable energy. No child or downsized, middle-aged worker will be left behind.

And the Business Journal:

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said Friday the state needs to treat younger entrepreneurs as a valuable economic resources.

"Today, Oregon is as much a guiding star for the young, imaginative, and entrepreneurial as the North Star was for ancient mariners," Kulongoski said during his 2008 State of the State address in downtown Portland. "They come because they're attracted to our creative economy, and because we don't treat culture, history, art, movies and preservation as frills, but as essential pieces of our quality of life."

He also urged residents to practice sustainability tenants that, by branding the state as an environmentally welcoming place, could reward Oregon in the global marketplace.

Kulongoski, midway through his second term, said even though job growth has lately flattened, high-tech and renewable energy companies are flocking to Oregon.


  • Harry (unverified)

    Obama vs Kulongoski

    Obama knocks out TeddyK in the first round.

    Why did TeddyK bother to even show up?

  • Rob (unverified)

    It was a great speech. He really sounded like the "Happy Warrior." Education, kids' health, green jobs - he was actually on fire today. It made me feel great about having him as my Governor.

    I only hope Courtney, Devlin, Hunt and the rest of the team are fighting with Ted and not against him in '09.

  • (Show?)

    "Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said Friday the state needs to treat younger entrepreneurs as a valuable economic resources."

    This is an awesome message and one that we hear all to little of from progressives, especially in a year like this where everyone's trying to out-populist one another. Pushing policies that encourage entrepreneurship and small-business development is the surest way to increase opportunity and employment, build a strong tax base for public services, and ensure that local communities have more hands-on control over their own economic health and wealth.

    Kudos to the Gov, thanks for the post.

  • lonnie G. (unverified)

    It was a great speech. Great agenda, his second term is working out way better than the first. Glad to hear him on his game today.

    BTW, the State of the State address was scheduled far in advance to Obama being here in Oregon. Cheap shot, Harry.

  • Monika Looskanksy (unverified)

    I just love big hard progressive agendas. That's so hot.

  • Steve (unverified)

    "Kulongoski, midway through his second term"

    Same old Teddy, talk a lot. Or did I sleep thru most of his accomplishments of the past 6 years which were mainly having a 20% revenue surplus gifted to him?

  • (Show?)

    I still wonder if Measure 50 would have ben defeated if the Yes on 50 campaign had made moe noise about the financial costs of smoking to the Oregon economy, ie what it really costs the taxpayers. Read my comments at

  • (Show?)

    Well the link worked but my spelling stinks. Only checked it three times before clicking post... I still wonder if Measure 50 would have been defeated if the Yes on 50 campaign had made more noise about the financial costs of smoking to the Oregon economy, ie what it really costs the taxpayers. Read my comments at

  • Steve (unverified)

    "I still wonder if Measure 50 would have ben defeated if the Yes on 50 campaign had made moe noise about the financial costs of smoking"

    Good thing you reminded me - DOes anyone know what happened to the $700M or so of the tobacco settlement Oregon got never went to fund child health care (hint - it is all going to the general fund)? THis is one of the reasons M50 failed is that people really don't rust the money would be used for health care.

  • alijane (unverified)

    Steve, you hit it right, the voters do not trust our state government to spend tax dollars wisely. The MSA agreement was to fund health care and yet it has been frittered away. Past tobacco tax increases were to fund health care and take care of the children.

    The taxpayers are tired of the politicians using and abusing the children for political gain and to fleece the taxpayers, much the same as they are tired of the carrot and stick governance. The services government chooses to cut in economic hard times are not planners and administration, but teachers, cops and health care workers. The voters have seen this time and time again, at the local level as well as the state level. We once lived in a small town that decided it could not afford to pay for street lights, they were also trying to blackmail the town residents into giving them a huge tax increase. The voters said no, the lights went out and the voters still refused to pay the local extortion tax, so they turned the street lights on again and gave up on the levy.

    Politicans, we need leaders willing to make the tough choices like why pay planners when we can't afford to build anything? Why trams and light rail and street cars when the streets and briges are falling apart? Why more administrators and cut teachers?

    Re-elect no one and maybe, just maybe we might find some real leadershio in government.

  • VHC (unverified)


    I can tell you what actually happened with health care for chldren (and adults) in the aftermath of M50:

    Specifically, Kulongoski, Merkley and all the rest of the leadership, all with good health care coverage at taxpayer expense I might add, who shamelessly masquerade as Democrats quite directly told poor kids to take a flyer.

    There was explicit agreement between Kulongoski, Merkley, Courtney, and Greenlick that the crisis of uninsured and underinsured children (and adults) that they attempted to use for their own selfish purposes in M50 was NOT to be on the agenda for the 2008 session, or during Merkley's run for Senate, despite lobbying by health care advocate outside the deceitful circle that gave us M50. The saga of Greenlick's proposed constitutional amendment to make health care a right in the 2008 experimental session, including Kulongoski's condemnatory public silence on the matter, showed us all that there is no honor even between these losers.

    The people have good reason not to trust Kulongoski, Merkley or the rest of them at all on the cigarette-tax-for-healthcare-issue. They are out-and-out incompetents and frauds. Their entire strategy around M50 was one of deception and little substantive regard for uninsured children. They publicly thumb their nose at us (and they aren't bashful about saying that when you talk to them or there staff) because they know many of the easily distracted, sheep-like supporters in this state, typified by many of the lead bloggers on Blue Oregon, will quite happily run cover for them and lie to their own readers about Kulongoski being "progressive", as we see here.

  • (Show?)

    I have to side with Steve here. I thought it was a terrible speech.

    No one doubts Kulongoski's ability to give a rip rouser of a speech, but will speech translate into action? The last six years seem to indicate no.

    I was most disturbed at those portions of the speech that compared the Oregon economy to the national economy. There is simply no denying the data: when the national economy sneezes, we get a cold. When California shivers, we have the flu.

    Ted seems to think by just saying REALLY LOUD that he JUST DOESN'T BELIEVE IT that this will go away. Criminies, his own economist said this at City Club just a few weeks ago!

    We have an insufficiently diversified economy. Nothing in the past ten years has changed that--if anything, the contractions after the dot com bust have made it worse.

    I fear our state economy is in real risk, and that the last down cycle will look mild in comparison.
    And the governor seems to be just fiddling along.

    Sunny optimism has its place; blind optimism can be dangerous.

  • alijane (unverified)

    Yes, the Governor seems to view the state economy through rose colored glasses. Remember the last recession? Oregon stayed in longer than any other state, we are in recovery, but not cured by a long shot. CA is in deep trouble as are many other states. Every trend comes to Oregon last, but it last longer here than in the other states.

    I too fear for the economic downturn that will come, we lack a diverse job base because Oregon tries to follow trends in other state, we are the johnny-come-lately state. Our leaders buy into any scheme the snake oil salesmen are selling, dot-com, the silicon forrest, bio-medical all areas we cannot compete because by the time they come here, they are in a down trend in the other states.

    Oregon used to be a business friendly state, anyone could come here and open a small shop, manufacturing plant or other small business. Today, only big businesses count and get all the breaks, small business need not apply, existing business can go to hell too. Small wonder people move their businesses out of the state to more business friendly states.

    I dread the 2009 legislative session and by 2011, this state will be in real financial trouble unless it changes it free spending ways.

  • (Show?)

    OK, Paul, you're on.

    What policy recommendations would you make to the Governor - that could be accomplished either by legislation or administrative action between now and the end of 2010 - in order to strengthen and boost our economy?

    The Governor was a lonely voice in the wilderness talking about infrastructure during the 2002 campaign - and he's shepherded through a multi-billion dollar investment since then (and despite state budgets tanking in 2003.)

    Infrastructure may not be sexy, but along with education, they're about the only place-oriented things you can do to boost a local economy. (See Robert Reich's Work of Nations.)

    And speaking of education... Oregon's economy and state/local budgets went into the crapper in 2003 (you try being the Governor faced with a 25% budget shortfall in your first year), but since then, we've gotten back on track.

    In 2007, the Governor pushed through a 22% increase in university budgets, and an 18% increase in K-12 budgets last year. (And yes, Steve's basically right that that's taking advantage of a big revenue boost. But the R's would have given it away in tax breaks.)

    What else you got?

  • (Show?)

    (I should note here that I built Kulongoski's campaign websites in 2002 and 2006, but I speak here only for myself.)

  • Iced Tee (unverified)

    I'd ask the Guvvy to focus on the things the private sector won't? Public safety, roads and bridges, services to vulnerable populations.

    Or better yet, try some innovative ways to REDUCE THE SIZE AND BURDEN OF GOVERNMENT: outsource the Lottery, the OLCC, and the State Prisons. Whoops, my mistake, I just remembered that Kulongoski made some promises to labor that he has to keep. Strike that. Let's grow government and increase the share of private income that it depends on for "balanced budgets" (called "Peak Economy" math).

    So we get State of Oregon incentives for electric cars (ever been to Boardman?), biofuels, light rail, and

  • andy (unverified)

    Electric cars? That is a really stupid idea. Where does the electricity come from doofus? Not to mention the toxic waste from the batteries or the prohibitive expense of actually building an electric car that would meet all federal regulations.

    I can just imagine what the commute out of Portland would be like on a winter evening if people were driving electric cars. Heaters going, defrost on, wipers on, headlights on, and the cars would all start to drain their batteries by the time the get to the Zoo. The whole freeway would be plugged up with stalled electric cars with their batteries drained!

    The world would be a better place if we elected a few engineers to run the place rather than all of the idiot lawyers.

  • VHC (unverified)

    In 2007, the Governor pushed through a 22% increase in university budgets, and an 18% increase in K-12 budgets last year.

    What else you got?

    Explain exactly what our weasely governor did that he deserves credit as you deceitfully represent it for PUSHING THROUGH any support for universities. I find one or two anemic speeches and a press release or two. In your scrambled brain, just because he was there like a potted plant in the office, with a Democratic majority and a healthy fraction of the Republican minority that in fact supports major aspects of our university education system for their own reasons, he gets the credit?

    And given that he was GOVERNOR, making comments about rebuilding state public infrastructure (which by the way was with the full support of the Republican-leaning construction industry because of the private business it would generate), hardly counts as being "in the wilderness". There wasn't a Democrat who was opposed to rebuilding our infrastructure, or who was any more or less vocal about it.

    On the other hand, when it come to health care for children, he, Merkley and the rest of the corrupted faction of our own party were out there doing what they could to make sure children were left without health care by saying it was a cigarette tax (the majority of which didn't actually go to health care, promises about the future nothwithstanding) or nothing, and then taking it off the table for 2008 when the voters stood up to their bullying. This is an embarrassment and disgrace to any Democrat who deserves to call themselves one. Now he's back with the same shameless political tactic, and you sit there and defend him.

    (By the way to all readers, what real health care advocates were pushing this year was fighting for enough revenues in the 2008 experimental session, including raising corporate taxes and slightly adjusting other taxes to be more progressive, just to provide state matching funds for federal funds. That was rejected by our own party leaders out of the most cynical politics well before the session started when all significant legislation they were going to allow Democrats to introduce was OK'd. Kulogonski and the same group of failed leaders now already appear to be stealing and perverting the general idea of scaling back plans to just raise just enough matching funds to push his tobacco tax again, and once again intentionally not offering any alternative for children if they don't get their way.)

    We are in the midst of a major health care reform process with the Oregon Health Fund Board. Kulongoski and Merkley are once again playing a potted plant publicly, doing their part to make sure the private health insurance companies are the winners by requiring that we all have to buy private insurance from them, rather than actually standing up and calling for a locally-grown, locally-adapted single-payer or other public plan. And if you try to weasel out that this is just his style, he was quite publicly for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is, before he was against the war in Iraq just because it has been executed poorly. Yea he's a real profile in political courage alright.

    You got nothin defending hypocrites like "Let me play a food stamp recipient for a week" Kulongoski.

  • Jennifer (unverified)

    VHC: you win the brass balls award for the best post on BlueOregon Evarrr!

    Self proclaimed progressives are going to eat you like a fat man in a piranha tank...But at least you have the guts to speak truth to entrenced faux liberal power.

    Kulo and Mezerkley are shams. Elect Novick if you want real reform.

  • LT (unverified)

    Jennifer, Do you really believe you will win people over to the Novick campaign with lines like this?

    "Kulo and Mezerkley are shams. Elect Novick if you want real reform."

  • Steve (unverified)

    "What policy recommendations would you make to the Governor"

    INstead of walking by newstands to get policy initiatives (last year was global cooling this year is bio-fuel), maybe Teddy "Being THere" Kulongoski could get an original idea.

    How about putting education and helath care as a priority? The healthy kids initiative could have started with the tobacco settlement of $700M, but strong-willed Teddy just let it all slip into the general fund to get divvied up and not hits people up for a cigarette tax to pay for this - What delicious irony!

    We get a 20% budget upside so Teddy spends the proportionate amount on education and then does stupid thing like staff up economic dev or other non-priority items which so far is throwing money down a rat hole - unless you can name me one job they brought here.

    Next budget cycle when he has all these extra employees that he cannot cut, guess what will get cut- education again!

    I would just like him to think beyond one budget cycle. All of the progressive here make no demands on him since he is a Demo and you are shooting yourselves in the foot.

  • VHC (unverified)


    Measure 50 results: (Source: Statesman Journal) Yes: 39.8% No: 60.2%

    I don't really know about Novick (never met him, not with his campaign, don't know anybody who is), but I think it's clear what the people want to hear this cycle. And what Kulongoski, Merkley, and, sadly, apparently you have to say, isn't it.

  • (Show?)

    Let's stay on topic folks. This is a thread about the Governor's agenda - not the Senate race.

    And please, don't fall for the trolling by the first-name-only crowd, like "Jennifer" and "Steve".

  • General Patton (unverified)


    I'd post with my full name and email if you had not blocked my I.P. address (twice).

  • VHC (unverified)

    Kari, last I checked Kulongoski (and poor clueless Roberts) were Merkley's campaign co-chairs. Agenda-wise and as astoundingly poor examples of Democrats, these guys are are two peas in a pod. If Merkley's supporters want to claim otherwise, they have the problem that their cowardly candidate has not given them any record of principled, outfront public opposition to Kulongoski to prove it.

    So I'd be happy to stick to Kulongoski's non-agenda, and what an embarrassment he and your flaking is to us as Democrats, if you'd have the integrity to quit misleading the public by misrepresenting what he, and Merkley stand for, and the kind of weasels they are as what we as Democrats represent. People need to read John Dean's latest "Broken Government" to understand just how much of the problem, rather than the solution, pols like Kulongoski and Merkley actually are.

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