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 Senator Doug Whitsett District 28 Newsletter 5/18/10

This year we are afforded a once in a generation opportunity to transform Oregon’s political leadership. I believe that our state desperately needs a new political philosophy that will lead us in a different and more prosperous direction.

         Today, more than one in nine Oregonians that is looking for a job cannot find work. About one in six Oregonians, that are able to work, do not have a job. On average, those who are fortunate enough to find a job are only working about 80% of a normal work week.

          In rural eastern and southern Oregon the numbers are even worse.

In those areas, one in seven people who are looking for work cannot find a job, and nearly one in three who are able to work either are not employed, or are working at a part time job.

          Federal policy has forced timber harvest from eastside federal forests to fall 92% during the past two decades. Fifty of the previously active sixty five saw mills have been forced to close, and the remaining fifteen are virtually hanging on by their finger tips. A negative cascading economic effect has resulted that has put tens of thousands of timber industry workers out of a job. During those two decades our State’s political leadership has generally agreed with, and often actively supported, those federal policies that have resulted cultural genocide in our  timber community.

Oregon’s March unemployment rate stood at 11.7%. Well more than a quarter of a million Oregonians are without a job and about half of those have been unemployed for more than six months. Our State continues to be among the national leaders in job loss. About twenty percent more Oregonians are without a job than the national average.

          Our state’s population grew by more than 500,000 people between 1999 and 2009. Unfortunately, fewer than 12,000 net new jobs were created during that entire decade. More than 60,000 Oregon manufacturing jobs disappeared during that ten year period. Those jobs are not coming back under the policies of our current leadership.

 At the same time, the rate of Oregon government spending  doubled from $30 billion to $60 billion. The growth of government employment is at an all time high.

            According to a recent Cato Institute study, public employees’ compensation has been increasing faster than private sector employee  compensation for the past three decades. That study shows that state and local public employee jobs now pay, on average, forty five percent more in salary and benefits than an equivalent job in the private sector.

          Taxpayers who live in Oregon’s urban areas are not faring much better. The city of Portland is ranked among the national leaders in the urban misery index. That city has shed more than 37,000 jobs during the last year and now ranks sixth in the nation in foreclosures. Portland’s misery index is virtually equal to that of Detroit, Michigan and New Orleans, Louisiana.

            Oregon’s ongoing economic debacle is no accident. Decades of unsustainable government expansion has resulted in untenable taxation and regulation that has extinguished private sector economic growth.

Oregon government revenue is in near free fall as a direct result of these policies. Our stringent land use restrictions and our obsession with environmental preservation are crushing our state economy. Job loss continues as business failures and business exodus from the State continues to accelerate.

State and local government now regulates virtually every aspect the Oregon business enterprise.

          For example, Crook County, the city of Prineville, the Facebook company, and local citizens all desperately wanted the new Facebook server-farm to be located adjacent to Prineville’s industrial park. It still required about eighteen months, permits too numerous to count, and untold millions of dollars in legal and regulatory costs for Facebook to obtain approval to builds its $75 million plant at the site where everyone wanted it to be located.

          A couple of years ago a developer was all set to invest more than  $100 million in the Shasta View Center along Washburn Way in Klamath Falls. That development would have employed as many as 1,800 construction workers for two years, provided full time jobs for as many as three thousand Klamath workers, and increased the County’s property tax base by more than $100 million. Oregon’s unique centralized land use and transportation planning regulations extinguished that project. The combined efforts of the Oregon Department of Transportation to force the developer to provide tens of millions of dollars for traffic impact mitigation and the Department of Land Conservation and Development to force yet another land use study and reconciliation ended that project.

          Tara O’Keefe is the daughter of a local rancher family who earned a degree in pharmacy, invented a line of moisturizing hand creams, and built a successful company that employed as many as thirty people.

          Tara recently completed the sale of that company to a firm located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her primary reason for selling that Oregon company was the unfair and unsustainable tax burden created by Measures 66 and 67. The certain result was another thirty jobs leaving Oregon.

          The measure 66& 67 tax increases were passed by only a few thousand votes. In fact, Multnomah and Lane county voters were responsible for both measures being passed. Sadly, nearly 800,000 Oregon voters failed to return their ballots in that special election.

          Easily enough votes were left on the table to have defeated both of those ill-advised tax increases had rural conservative people only voted.

This year we are presented with a once in a generation opportunity to make significant changes in Oregon’s political leadership. The office of Governor, Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction and virtually every seat in the Oregon legislature have multiple candidates with very different political philosophies. Most local offices are also heavily contested.

          The epitome of futility is to continue to elect those with the same political philosophies and expect a different outcome.

          We are witnessing an awakening of the conservative majority in numbers that I have not witnessed in my lifetime. But that previously silent majority will not prevail if they will not vote.

One of our founding fathers, Samuel Adams once said: “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in peoples’ minds.” Our state has been ruled for too long by such a minority of tireless people bent on controlling every aspect of our lives. Isn’t it time to take back our government?

In 1776 it required an armed revolution to change the political leadership. Today, it only requires people to vote. We still have until 8 P.M. on Tuesday to mark our ballots and return them to the ballot box. Please take the time and make the effort to vote!

In the alternative, as Samuel Adams also said: Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen…”

            Please remember that if we don’t stand up for rural Oregon no one will.

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              Page Updated: Sunday May 23, 2010 09:21 PM  Pacific

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