The Oregon House Democrats: Strong Leadership. Oregon Values.

"We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals-and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship."
-Grover Norquist, Denver Post, 2003

For 16 years, the Oregon House Republicans have followed the orders of Washington, DC Republican extremist Grover Norquist and made the Oregon House bitter, nasty and ineffective. They have ruined was once a respected institution of innovation and cooperation reflecting the pioneering values of Oregonians. Their record of working hand - in - hand with powerful special interests is well documented. Unfortunately, virtually all Oregonians now believe that the Oregon Legislature simply does not matter. Ask yourself: Do you know anyone who believes the Oregon House is doing a good job?

The Oregon House Democrats believe that after 16 years of failed Republican control its time for the Legislature to once again provide strong leadership based on Oregon values - not the values of the most powerful special interests.

The Oregon House Democrats believe its time restore bi-partisanship, cooperation, and innovation to the State Legislature.

The Oregon House Democrats believe its time for a Legislature Oregonians can believe in again.

Just what would Democratic Leadership of the House mean for Oregon?

Stronger Support for Oregon's Families
-Lower Health Care and Prescription Costs for Oregon's seniors and working families.
-Investments to create more family wage jobs for Oregon workers.
-Reigning in pay day lenders that are preying on Oregon's most vulnerable families.

Standing up for our Children and their Future.
-Schools that have the funding necessary to provide a world class education for our children.
-Schools that work with parents to make sure dollars are spent on our kids and not on bureaucracy.
-Investments in Higher Education to prepare our kids for the 21st century economy.
-Investments in new technology for cleaner air and water and to reduce Oregon's dependence on foreign oil.

Standing up to the Special Interests.
-A smaller tax burden on Oregon's working families by making large corporations pay their fair share.
-Efficient government services that spend every tax dollar wisely.
-Democracy that is open and accountable to Oregon citizens by putting an end to back room deal making.

We hope you will join our campaign to put Oregon values back at the top of the agenda in Salem!


January 4, 2006 by Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley
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The 2006 Democratic Campaign for the Oregon House: A New Kind of Campaign. A New Direction for Oregon.

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Our State Legislature, once admired for its bold initiative and innovative thinking, has sadly become one of the most notoriously dysfunctional institutions in Oregon. To most Oregonians, the Oregon Legislature simply doesn't matter anymore.

Republicans have been in control of the Oregon House for 16 years. What do they have to show for it? Record rural unemployment. Record number of Oregonians without health care. Record number of children going hungry. Record class sizes in our schools. Record number of corporations paying only $10 in taxes while the rest of us carry the load.

Republican leaders are busy playing partisan games and making deals with powerful special interests.

Isn't it time for a Legislature we can believe in again?
Isn't it time for a Legislature that matters again?
Isn't it time for the Legislature to serve us and not the special interests?


Today, the Oregon House Democrats are launching a new type of campaign to bring new direction to the Oregon Legislature. Earlier this year, the Oregon House Democrats became the first legislative caucus in the nation to host its own blog. Now we are going to bring that commitment to open government and direct citizen interaction to our campaign to take back the Oregon House. This election, the Oregon House Democrats are going to do something that few campaigns ever do: Listen.

Here's what you can expect from the Oregon House Democrats during the upcoming election:

-We will listen to you.
-We will ask for your input on issues and campaign strategy.
-We will provide you with details on our issues and positions - not just political spin.
-We will introduce you to our legislators and candidates.
-We will arm you with detailed information you need to take the Democratic message into your community.
-You will be given an inside look at the campaign to take back the Oregon House!

All we ask of you is to help us in four simple ways:

-If you have an idea, send it to us. There are no bad ideas in this statewide effort.
-When we ask for your advice, please give it to us.
-Volunteer your time for a Democratic candidate for the Oregon House.
-Donate early, donate often. Every dollar helps take back the Oregon House.

The most important thing you can do? Spread the word. Please forward this message, and future messages, to everyone you know.

Our State Legislature can still make a positive difference in the lives of Oregonians. It is still possible for our elected officials to provide real leadership. We can solve the real problems facing our State. With a new Democratic majority in the Oregon House the most powerful special interests in Salem will be our families, our kids and our seniors.

Together, we can make a difference for Oregon.

October 18, 2005 by Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley
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The Work Starts Now. It is Time for New Leadership in the Oregon House!

Merkley_3_1We need your help! Please make a contribution to the Oregon House Democrats campaign today, and help us spread the word –

We must keep Karen Minnis from returning as Speaker in 2007!

We need citizens from across Oregon to join us in this fight!

On Friday, the Oregon House limped to its sad conclusion for the 2005 Legislative Session. The need for a change in House leadership has never been clearer. The record of the 2005 House is shameful. The session almost outlasted the baseball season, and had this been a game, the House Republicans and the most powerful special interests won hands down, having teamed up to run up the score on Oregonians.

Democrats in the Legislature fought for a common sense agenda that benefits every Oregonian in every community from Burns to Astoria. But in the face of the House Republican caucus, ruled with an iron grip by Karen Minnis, our fight for fully funded schools, lower health care costs and a strong economy was crushed.

By making a contribution to the Oregon House Democrats campaign committee today you can stop the House Republicans and their special interest teammates from running up the score on Oregonians in 2007.

Here’s how they ran up the score in 2005:

First Inning: Tobacco Companies

• House Republicans stonewalled HB 2940, which would have reinstated the voter-approved 10 cent cigarette tax to fund the Oregon Health Plan.
• House Speaker Karen Minnis personally killed SB 931, which would have required tobacco companies to sell “fire-safe cigarettes” in Oregon.

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 2
Oregonians 0


Second Inning: Drug Companies

• House Republicans killed SB 329, which would have expanded the state’s drug purchasing pool to let small business and individuals save money on their prescriptions.
• House Republicans killed SB 1011, which would have allowed victims of the drug Vioxx, and their families, to seek justice in court.
• House Republicans killed HB 2817, which would have required disclosure of the billions of dollars in gifts drug companies give to doctors.

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 5
Oregonians 0

Third Inning: Insurance Companies

• House Republicans killed HB 2837, which would have required health insurance companies to get public approval before they raise our insurance rates.
• House Republicans voted down SB 849, which would have required pharmacies and health insurance companies to make emergency contraception available to sexual-assault victims.
• House Republicans killed HB 2920, which would have required all insurance companies to get public approval before they raise our insurance rates.

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 8
Oregonians 0

Fourth Inning: School Bureaucrats

• House Republicans killed SB 639, which would have saved taxpayers as much as $100 million by creating a statewide health insurance pool for teachers.
• House Republicans voted down SB 766, which would have restricted payouts to retiring school administrators, the infamous “golden parachutes.”
• House Republicans killed HB 3433, which would have ensured that tax dollars get to the classroom by limiting the amount of funds that can be spent on administration.

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 11
Oregonians 0

Fifth Inning: Corporate Polluters

• House Republicans forced passage of the polluter tax loophole in SB 3041, which gives tax money to the worst polluters in Oregon simply for following the law.
• House Republicans used unconstitutional language in the Department of Environmental Quality budget to block steps that would reduce auto emissions.
• House Republicans prohibited state government from taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in HR 3.
• House Republicans weakened the provisions for pesticide-use reporting in SB 290, which protects consumers from the harmful effects of pesticides.

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 15
Oregonians 0

Sixth Inning: Predatory Lenders and Ultra-Wealthy Tax Cheats

• House Republicans gutted SB 480, which would have reformed the abuse of offshore tax shelters by the ultra-wealthy and the most powerful corporations like Enron.
• House Republicans voted down SB 545, which would have reined in predatory payday lending practices.

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 17
Oregonians 0


Seventh Inning: Corporate Tax Giveaways

• House Republicans forced passage of HB 2332, one of the biggest tax giveaways in Oregon history. This shameless bill would have given away nearly $500 million, and would have required deep cuts to services in order to balance Oregon’s books, such as elimination of Oregon’s entire system of community colleges.
• House Republicans forced passage of HB 2542, a massive tax giveaway to out of state corporations.
• House Republicans forced passage of HB 2540, which would have let corporations off the hook for funding public schools.

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 20
Oregonians 0

Eighth Inning: Abuse of Power

• Minnis changed the rules in the early innings of the session to give herself the power to fire the Chief Clerk of the House (the umpire).
• Minnis abused the rules in the middle innings of the session to stop legislators from challenging her with floor ammendments.
• Minnis changed the rules in the final innings of the session by preventing a majority of House members, of either party, from challenging her by moving bills from committees.

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 23
Oregonians 0

Ninth Inning: Secrecy

• Minnis embraced partisanship when she unilaterally broke up the bipartisan Ways and Means Committee. As The Oregonian recently reported, this allowed Minnis to secretly negotiate on behalf of the special interests, in backroom meetings, with only six other elected officials.


Final Score:

House Republicans and Powerful Special Interests 24
Oregonians 0


This makes it clear that the Speaker’s agenda is all about helping the most powerful special interests at the expense of the rest of us. We can and must do much better! Oregon can’t afford another losing season in 2007 with Karen Minnis as Speaker.

By making a contribution today, you can help put Democrats in control of the Oregon House for the first time since 1990. With Democrats in control, the most powerful special interests in 2007 will be our kids, our seniors, and the working families of Oregon.

By forwarding this message to five of your friends, you can help spread the word about our cause. We won’t win in 2006 unless supporters like you get involved by making a contribution and asking your friends to help.

Today is the start of a long fight for the future of our State. Together, we can all make a difference for every community in Oregon.

August 8, 2005 by Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley
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Oregon Legislative Counsel: "SB 1000-A is constitutional as written."

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I have received several calls to my office regarding concerns that SB 1000 violates Measure 36 and Oregon's constitution. Therefore, I asked Oregon Legislative Counsel to provide me with an opinion regarding the constitutionality of SB 1000.

I received a letter, dated July 20th, 2005 from David Heynderickx, Legislative Counsel responding to my request. I have posted the letter here for anyone interested to read, print out, copy and distribute:

Download LC-SB1000Letter.pdf

The letter clearly states that Oregon Legislative Counsel believes SB-1000-A is constitutional as written.

A couple of key excerpts from the letter:

"Senate Bill 1000-A does not create a "marriage" by another name..."

"...Senate Bill 1000-A does not create a "same-sex marriage" under the guise of another name."

"In conclusing, we believe Senate Bill 1000-A is constitutional as written."

July 21, 2005 by Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley
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House Republican Leaders Choose to Leave the Peoples' Work Undone

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During last year’s campaign season, candidates for the Oregon House promised action on a broad range of issues that Oregonians care deeply about, including the high cost of healthcare, fighting the war against methamphetamine, creating jobs and strengthening the economy, accountability in government, and funding education.

After the 73rd session of the Oregon Legislature got under way in January, many well-meaning members of both parties rolled up their sleeves and started working on bills that addressed these concerns. In good faith, they introduced legislation that tackled the work they knew the voters and citizens of Oregon consider important.

Unfortunately, in the rush to end this session of the legislature, Speaker Karen Minnis and Majority Leader Wayne Scott have adjourned the House until next Sunday, while the bulk of the people’s work remains unfinished. I’m disappointed and angry that the Republican leadership apparently feels no sense of urgency over keeping the promises that Republicans and Democrats alike have made to the people of Oregon.

Significant work remains to address every major challenge in the lives of working Oregonians, including the runaway rise in the cost of prescription drugs and health coverage; the staggering impact of the meth epidemic; and a solid financial foundation that provides the opportunity to aspire to excellence. And all over Oregon, people are demanding that the legislature keep its promise to promote economic growth and stimulate the formation of new jobs.

In every one of these significant policy areas, major bills are awaiting action in the House of Representatives. But the Speaker’s response to these real issues affecting the quality of life of all Oregonians is to say we have “little to do” and to send the House on a four-day paid vacation.

To make our point about the Unfinished Agenda as clearly as possible, we have identified 12 important proposals that have passed the Senate with bi-partisan support, but that are languishing unaddressed in the Oregon House of Representatives.

We call it the “Undone Dozen.”

These are measures the people of Oregon care about. These are significant bills that would help make life healthier, more prosperous and safer for every citizen in this state or that would improve the efficiency of state government. They are bills we could be working on right now, while the Senate moves toward the end of its own session.

Health care

In the area of health care, the Speaker and the Majority Leader have left three vital initiatives hanging in limbo:

• Senate Bill 1 would require insurance companies to cover mental health problems in the same way they cover other medical conditions. The Senate passed the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support on March 21, by a vote of 23-6. Today, it waits in the House State and Federal Affairs Committee.

• Senate Bill 329 is one of the most important proposals we’ve seen to help reduce the cost of health care. It would expand the state’s drug purchasing pool to allow private businesses and individuals to save money on prescription drugs. On May 20, it passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 19-11. Today, it waits in the House Budget Committee.

• Senate Bills 756 and 849 enhance women’s access to emergency contraceptives, and require insurance companies to cover the cost of prescription contraceptives. These are important bills that affect women’s health, but the Republican leadership has chosen to let them die. The two bills passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support (22-7 and 20-7)—the first in March, the second in May, but today they wait in the House Judiciary Committee.

Education

On the issue of education, which is on the minds of countless parents and students these days, two bills could have a positive effect on school budgets:

• Senate Bill 766 would eliminate unreasonably rich severance packages for superintendents of school districts, as well as retirement benefits better than those of other school employees—the so-called “golden parachutes.” The bill would save money for schools, and allow stronger investment in the classroom. The Senate passed it on April 20 with strong bipartisan support (19-8), but today the bill waits in the House Education Committee, while the House goes on a paid four-day vacation.

• Senate Bill 841 and Senate Joint Resolution 2 address the Education Stability Fund, commonly known as the “Rainy Day” fund. The first would require transfer of the entire General Fund ending balance (up to a limit of two percent of all General Fund expenditures) to the Education Stability Fund. The second would refer a constitutional amendment to the voters, enabling them to increase the Education Stability from five percent to 10 percent of General Fund revenues. These are serious, effective proposals that could provide a real cushion for school funding. They both passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support on May 31 and June 1, but today they wait in the House Budget Committee and the House State and Federal Affairs Committee.

• Senate Bill 467 would enable the Department of Education to reimburse school districts and others who provide summer food services to the children of low-income families. The price tag would be $150,000 per biennium. The Senate passed the bill with strong bipartisan support (25-3) on June 6, but today the bill waits in the House Budget Committee.

The Meth Crises

Nearly every House member vowed to bolster Oregon’s fight against methamphetamine.

• Today, two strong bills—HB 2485 and SB 907, the “Meth Package”—still await action in the Budget Committee.

Economic development and jobs

Similarly, nearly every House member promised voters a strong effort to foster economic development and promote the growth of jobs.

• Senate Bill 71, or “Connect Oregon,” is a bill that would allocate $100 million in Lottery-backed bonds for air, rail, seaport and transit improvements throughout the state—an excellent opportunity to stimulate business development and create thousands of new jobs. In the rush to adjourn the House, the Republican leadership has wasted a golden opportunity to strengthen Oregon’s economy. The bill passed the Senate unanimously on June 22, but today it’s dying in the House State and Federal Affairs Committee.

Abusive tax shelters and giveaways

The taxpayers of Oregon are tired of hosing away precious tax dollars on hundreds of shelters, credits, deductions and allowances that overburden our state’s tax code.

• Senate Bill 480 strengthens penalties for certain abusive tax shelters, and provides periods of amnesty to encourage immediate compliance. Republicans and Democrats alike loved this bill in the Senate, where it passed with overwhelming bipartisan support (23-3) on March 23. Today it waits in the House Budget Committee.

Consumer protection

The Senate has passed two important measures that provide major benefits or protection to consumers.

• Senate Bill 545, the “Payday Loan” bill, would restrict lenders to 15 percent of the loan value as interest on a two-week loan, which is still the equivalent of 391 percent interest when figured on an annual basis. Some lenders charge as much as 600 percent interest. The measure also would limit loan amounts to $1,000 or 25 percent of a borrowers' gross monthly income, whichever is less. This badly needed bill passed the Senate on May 31 with bipartisan support (17-13), but today it waits in the House State and Federal Affairs Committee.

• Senate Bill 408 would simply require investor-owned utilities to pay the taxes for which they bill their customers, instead of simply keeping the money after reducing their tax liability with credits and loopholes. The Senate passed the bill with overwhelming bipartisan support (26-4) on June 8, but today it waits in the House State and Federal Affairs Committee.

Double-majority reform

Senate Joint Resolution 14 responds to a very real problem in Oregon. Because of the infamous “double-majority” requirement, voters in local property tax elections can cast a “no” vote by simply not voting at all. This measure would enable the voters to amend the constitution by eliminating the requirement for a turnout by a majority of voters in property tax elections. But it would restrict such elections to the November general election in even-numbered years and the May election in any year. The Senate passed this bill with strong bipartisan support (20-8) on April 12, but today it languishes in the House Revenue Committee.

Conclusion

I want to emphasize that the proposals I’ve described—the “Undone Dozen”—are not wildly partisan attempts to embarrass one party or the other in the House. They all have bipartisan support. They are good public policy, because they respond to real problems.

It’s just plain wrong to let these good pieces of legislation wither and die in committee just because a tight group of the majority leadership would rather not deal with them. The people sent us here to do their business, and we owe them a decent effort. The House Democrats are here today, ready to work on these bills, ready to do the business of the people. We wish the majority party were here, too.


July 7, 2005 by Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley
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The Speaker’s so-called “Stable Schools Plan” is the “unkindest cut of all"

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You remember the story from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

Mark Antony finished his eulogy for the murdered Julius Caesar by jumping from the pulpit to the side of the slain Roman leader. He pointed to the wound that Brutus’ dagger made. He reminded the crowd that Brutus was Caesar’s friend and fellow Roman, a man who Caesar trusted most of all. “This was the unkindest cut of all,” Mark Antony delclared.

Oregon’s K-12 schools have suffered a savaging of cuts. You’ve seen them in your community—the loss of arts, music, sport programs. You’ve endured ever-higher fees for extracurricular activities. You’ve seen the end of Outdoor School and foreign language classes. You’ve seen first-grade classes with 34 students, the firing of counselors and a four-day school week.

But the Speaker’s so-called “Stable Schools Plan,” which is actually the “Cap and Cut Plan,” is the unkindest cut of all to Oregon’s schools. And make no mistake—it’s a cut. If this bill had been in place over the past 10 years, it would have reduced school spending by $2.6 billion dollars.

I don’t understand why anyone would want to cap funding for schools. If you’re spending too much on something, then put a cap on it. If you’re spending too little on an important program, however, the last thing want to do you is cap it.

Does anyone seriously believe that Oregon has spent too much on schools over the past ten years, or that we’re spending too much now? I doubt that anyone name a legislator who ran for office and said to the voters, “It’s a good thing that we can no longer afford arts, music, gym, counselors, full school years and decent class sizes. I intend to make sure that we can never afford them in the future.”

In other states, the political leaders acknowledge that schools are critical for the children and the economy. In other states, the leaders take action to make sure that schools thrive. In other states, the legislatures believe schools are so important that they have established funding floors to protect education from downturns in the economy.

But the Speaker’s bill says we see it differently here in Oregon. Our shortened and stripped school programs are just fine, and the Speaker wants to make sure that it stays that way.

Her bill tells every parent, every child and every business that they can quit fighting for decent schools, let alone great schools. Our schools already have too much, and the legislature should cut and cap their budgets.

Mark Antony said that Brutus’ blow to Caesar was the “unkindest cut of all.”

This bill is clearly the unkindest cut of all the wounds inflicted on our schools over the past decade, because it cuts more than financial resources. It cuts hope out of the heart of every student and parent who aspires to a great education.

In the meantime, we must count on the state Senate to stop this cynical, damaging bill in its tracks.

July 1, 2005 by Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley
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Five Proposals to Control Skyrocketing Health Care Costs: Tell us Your Opinion!

How does the rising cost of health care affect you and your family and your co-workers? What do you think of these proposals? Can you offer ideas we haven’t yet considered? Please tell us what you think!

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With time running out to take action, the Oregon House of Representatives has not yet taken up any serious measure aimed at getting Oregon’s skyrocketing health care costs under control. To the House Democrats, this situation is inexcusable.

Although the state Senate has passed three significant bills, to date the Republican-led House has moved with painful slowness on all important healthcare legislation. Bills have actually died in committee. We believe the time has come for extraordinary measures to spur House action on these and other bills that relate to reducing the cost of healthcare.

The House Democrats will hold a special two-hour hearing on Tuesday, June 14, at 4:30 p.m., in Hearing Room E of the State Capitol. The purpose of the hearing is to focus attention on healthcare legislation that the House must consider now if it is to meet its obligation to the people of Oregon. We invite all House members of both caucuses to attend, as well as the majority and minority caucuses of the Senate.

I appreciate that most people lack the time and resources to visit the Capitol to offer their opinions. Therefore, I strongly encourage those of you who cannot come to the hearing on Tuesday to give us your opinion here by posting a follow-up comment.

These are the bills we will consider at tomorrow’s hearing:

• Senate Bill 329, which would expand a popular state program that provides discounts on prescription drugs for low-income and uninsured Oregonians. The bill opens up the Oregon Prescription Drug Program to enrollees in health benefits plans, to people of any age with gross incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, and to businesses and organizations that provide health insurance to their employees. The bill would enable more Oregonians to take advantage of state buying power to obtain better prices for prescription drugs. It sets a maximum enrollment in the program of 250,000 individuals. The Senate approved the bill last month, but it has failed to advance out of committee in the House.

• Senate Bill 501, which requires health insurers to report certain information to the state in a format that allows policy makers and the public to compare insurers more easily. The information includes the number of members, trends in premiums, administrative costs, net income, and surpluses and reserves. The Senate passed the bill in May, but the House has taken no final action.

• Senate Bill 1040, which would require hospitals to report specific costs to the state, allowing comparisons of costs at different hospitals. Among its goals is making hospital costs more understandable to consumers and insurance companies. The Senate passed the bill in May, but the House Budget Committee has not acted on it.

• House Bill 2817, which would require drug makers to disclose the nature, value and purposes of the gifts they give to physicians, hospitals and other health professionals. With healthcare costs skyrocketing, patients need this kind of information in order to be wise consumers, the bill’s supporters say. The House Health and Human Services Committee heard strong testimony in support of the bill, but the Committee closed down before it could act on it.

• House Bill 3496, which would require full funding of the state program to reduce tobacco use. The $7 million that the Budget Committees are proposing to allocate for the program is 53 percent less than the voters mandated.

Thank you very much for your comments!

June 13, 2005 by Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley
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“It Ain’t Over till It’s Over”

House Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley is a third term legislator representing NE Portland

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“It ain’t over till it’s over,” Yogi Berra once said.

During the past couple of weeks, the Democrats in the Oregon House lost a battle to prevent the Republican majority from cutting schools, but we haven’t given up. We’ll keep swinging, because the game isn’t over yet.

We brought a “no-cuts” school budget to the floor for a vote—a simple $5.4-billion bill that would have prevented shortening Oregon’s school year, laying off hundreds more teachers, and making Oregon’s classes even bigger. During the debate, we would have shown that strong schools are critical to our children’s success and a strong economy. We would have torn apart false Republican claims that pit schools against programs for seniors and other vulnerable citizens. Finally, we would have shown that we can pass a no-cuts budget for schools without raising taxes.

Unfortunately, the Republicans had no heart for the debate. Employing a homegrown version of the “nuclear option,” they killed the bill without discussion or a vote—another example of Republicans campaigning as champions of public education, but abandoning schools when it’s time to vote.

That’s a shame. Oregonians deserve a full-blown debate over schools.

Democrats believe “Education is Job One.” If we had our way, the House would pass a bill providing access to Head Start for all eligible children. We would adopt a “no-cuts” funding bill for schools and pass measures to ensure accountability. We would enact robust programs for community colleges. We would invest in expanded Opportunity Grants and greater funding for university-based high-tech research and engineering. And finally, we would adopt a K-12 School Stability Plan that features a spending floor—not the House Speaker’s spending cap, which would drag our public schools down from mediocre to abysmal.

The legislature still has time to adopt an aggressive education agenda while strengthening programs that help seniors, disabled people and other vulnerable citizens. Funds are not the issue. The May economic forecast projected an increase of more than $400 million in revenues over the December forecast. Common School Fund revenues have surged over $55 million. More than $175 million sits in the School Stability Fund. And the addition of video slots will bring in an additional $120 million.

The excuses are gone. House Democrats will keep fighting for a real debate over education, its importance to our children, and its critical relevance to Oregon’s economy. We will seize every opportunity to emphasize that education must be “Job One” if Oregon hopes to prosper in the hyper-competitive world of the 21st century. One thing is certain: we cannot thrive in the “knowledge economy” if we have the shortest school years and largest class sizes in the nation.

Yogi was right: It ain’t over till it’s over. But we’re in the bottom of the ninth. If you care about the game and want to play, now’s the time. Call your Representative or Senator, and help the Legislature do the right thing to rebuild Oregon.

June 6, 2005 by Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley
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Welcome!

JeffmerkleyWelcome to the Oregon House Democrats’ Blog—an exciting new way to engage in truly open dialogue with the Democrats in the House of Representatives.

In today’s hot political climate, information is everything. But it’s not enough simply to read newspapers, magazines and websites, or to watch cable news. Legislators need a way to participate in a no-holds-barred exchange of ideas, opinions and views on a 24/7 basis. And the people need a way to make their voices heard. That’s what this blog provides, and it’s open to everyone who has a view to express.

The 27 members of the Oregon House Democratic Caucus believe in an open government. Unfortunately, the rush of legislative business, as well as the limitations of space and time, prevents many people from communicating directly with legislators. This new blog enables any interested person to see the positions taken by House Democrats and to comment on them. It will provide the constant flow of information that legislators need to respond to constituents’ concerns.

I hope you find our blog informative and accessible. Give us your thoughts, ideas and complaints. Tell us how we can make the blog better. And please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected]

May 23, 2005 by Democratic Leader Jeff Merkley
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