Measure 69: Get the Economy Moving Again

College applications and enrollment levels are at an all-time high and today’s students will be key in helping get Oregon’s economy back on track.

By Rep. Chris Harker (D-Beaverton)

Last Sunday, the Oregonian carried an op-ed by Tim Priest calling for a business environment in which business and government “can work together for mutual benefit: economic growth and job creation.” Priest offers several thought provoking suggestions on how to do this, but I’d like to write not about how partnerships between business and government can work, but how these partnerships are working – and about the importance policy makers and business leaders should place on strengthening them.

Monday’s edition of the Oregonian features a story that illustrates the benefits of nurturing the bonds between the public and private sectors. Dana Tims reports that the Oregon Institute of Technology is planning to relocate and consolidate some of its programs “to create a pipeline of highly skilled workers for Wilsonville’s thriving cluster of high-tech businesses.” Since most students at OIT are professionals who are currently employed, some in Wilsonville, it makes perfect sense to bring these businesses together with educational institutions that facilitate their employee’s professional development. One thriving company is good; several together is better; but several together, combined with supporting resources, is best.

So how would OIT, a public university, finance this transition and continue to build strong partnerships with business? By using low-cost bond funding to be authorized by the passage of Measure 69, which will appear on the ballot this May.

I helped write House Joint Resolution 101, the bill that has become Measure 69, and championed its passage during the February session in the State Legislature

As the founder and owner of a small business, I know all too well how important an educated and well-trained workforce is to economic growth. College applications and enrollment levels are at an all-time high and today’s students will be key in helping get Oregon’s economy back on track. We need to enable the institutions of learning to accommodate these increases so that students have access to the courses, classrooms and facilities they need. That means growth of the campuses, exactly like the OIT expansion. Measure 69 will help accomplish this.

Measure 69 has the support of our Attorney General and Bond Counsel, the Oregon University System, the State Treasurer and the Governor, as well as many of the business groups Priest mentions in his op-ed. They know, as I do, that strong public universities contribute to strong businesses.

The relationship between public sector investments and private sector success is deep and complex, but the relationship is bearing fruit. It is now up to policy makers and business leaders to educate the public about how we are working together to get the economy moving again. Doing so will restore trust in government and the private sector at a time in which the public is demanding more from both.

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    Sorry, but the state capped their bonding capacity over a year ago with the $180 MM ill conceived employment act that merely funneled funds to long overdue maintenance projects for public entities. By the state's own figures there will be no funding capacity available at least until 2013; and that does not take into consideration the budget busting $2,5BB estimated revenue shortfall for FY 2011.

    I'll be voting "NO" on this and the other Measure in May. The state has more important things to do regarding revenue and a meaningful, long overdue total restructing of our tax and spending systems. A shell game with bonding capacity/payments is just another distraction.

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    I will be voting for Measure 69.

    But I do question the OIT example. I'm all for filling the educational needs their meeting, by why by OIT from Klamath Falls. Would it not be more administratively efficient for PSU (or PCC) to meet that need here in the Portland area.

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    We cannot maintain our competitiveness in this world economy without funding our education systems. Measure 68 makes good fiscal sense.

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    This measure is so simple--voting "yes" allows Oregon community colleges and universities to qualify for lower interest rates on bonds, which gives them more bang for their buck. That extra bang will help fund much needed school expansions for record-high student enrollments. No extra money is taken out of our pockets. It's a win-win and a great measure proposed by its creative and enterprising originators.

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