Addressing the crisis in rural Oregon starts with electing a governor who actually acknowledges rural Oregon is in crisis. This governor should not be part of the one-party rule that has presided over rural Oregon’s demise these last 30 years. The majestic and fruitful lands beyond Oregon’s I-5 corridor can no longer be seen solely as giant vacation lands and parks for recreating urban Oregonians. That’s not good for the proud residents of rural Oregon. That’s not good for our mountains, forests, and high desert lands. And that’s not good for our urban and suburban communities that pay for our “forgotten” rural Oregon in the form of higher social welfare costs and lower tax revenues for schools and state services in these impoverished communities.
Here’s my plan for rural Oregon:
- One, acknowledge that rural Oregon is in crisis and act like it.
- Two, launch a six-year action plan to revive rural Oregon.
- Three, keep this initiative and similar (related) initiatives to reduce class sizes, to put more money into the pockets of working Oregonians, and to end traffic congestion at the center of Oregon’s public policy agenda. Every day. All year.
OK, what would the specifics look like?
- Encourage Portland-centric businesses, such as Intel, to spread out across the state, opening up job opportunities in rural Oregon. The governor must ensure that the state spreads growth by creating more opportunities across Oregon, with the help of state and local incentives and targeted transportation infrastructure projects.
- Eliminate state regulations that make it more difficult for Oregon manufacturers to compete in the marketplace. For example, Oregon requires shipping of modular homes in much smaller loads than other states, greatly increasing transportation and ultimately home costs for Oregon manufacturers and buyers. Our state government needs to stop putting our manufacturers and their workers at a competitive disadvantage.
- Make the Port of Coos into a vibrant, deepwater port so our goods can be shipped out from southern Oregon instead of California, Washington, and Canada.
- Bring the weight of the governor’s office to bear on fixing the labor problems at the Port of Portland so our farmers and agribusinesses once again have regular shipping schedules.
- Increase timber harvest levels on our state lands under Oregon’s Forest Practices Act. Ensure our state forests can meet their legal production goals as set by the Oregon Forestry Board. This would create new jobs and preserve existing ones in our rural communities. It would also generate millions more in revenue for our counties and the state treasury.
- Push through projects that bring jobs to rural communities.
- Push Washington, D.C. to increase harvest on our federal lands in an environmentally responsible and timely manner.
- Establish a system of functioning small rural airports across Oregon.
I’ll be a balanced voice for rural Oregon and bring the citizens together. I’ll do all I can to incentivize the movement of people and resources to citizens who want to live in Oregon’s rural areas. The fact is that if we make rural Oregon successful, we make all of Oregon successful.