With all Gov. Kate Brown’s years in power, all the billions spent, all the supposed advantage of her leadership, look where Oregon is. Its education system, its foster care and its public debt are dazzling disappointments.
Don’t let Brown have another four years. Vote instead for Knute Buehler.
Are you happy with the state’s education system?
There are so many disappointing metrics. For one, Oregon has a deplorable high school graduation rate. Nearly a quarter of the state’s students don’t graduate from high school, giving the state the third worst graduation rate in the country. And the uncomfortable fact is Oregon gets that performance despite spending more on average per pupil than most other states.
Brown says she is going to bring back the 180-day school year. Why didn’t she do that already? What was she waiting for? Buehler would use the governor’s power of executive order to make it happen.
Brown made it harder for parents to hold schools accountable by making it easy to opt-out of testing. Buehler wants to get rid of that law and allow more flexibility for school districts to use the nationwide tests they want.
Are you happy with the state’s foster care system?
The state is failing to protect its most vulnerable children. It has paid out millions in settlements for state wrongdoing because of abuse and neglect.
In 2015, Gov. Brown appeared before a Senate committee and vowed to take action to correct recurring problems. She pointed to her own experience working as an attorney in the foster care system.
But she hasn’t gotten the job done. A state audit this year found Brown’s Department of Human Services has been “slow, indecisive and inadequate” in fixing those same persistent problems.
Buehler came out after the audit and called on the state to come up with $50 million to pay for as many as 270 new child care workers to correct one of the issues identified in the audit — a staffing shortage. A few weeks later, Brown proposed $14.5 million.
There’s $22 billion in money the state does not have for the Public Employees Retirement System. That comes to about $15,000 per Oregon household. You don’t pay it directly. But you feel it. It comes out of the budgets of schools, local governments and the state. They are going to be scrambling with 38 percent increases in what they are paying into the system to keep it afloat. It means schools are in a classroom funding crisis. Cities may have to pave fewer roads. Law enforcement may have to put fewer police on the street.
Return Brown to office and she’ll give the issue the same lip service she has in the past. She hasn’t done enough.
As governor, Buehler vows not to sign any spending bills until PERS reform comes to his desk. He is going to make sure beneficiaries get good benefits. But he wants a cap on maximum PERS benefits so Oregonians aren’t making crazy payments such as $74,000 a month. And he wants to move future beneficiaries to something like a 401(k) with an employer and employee contribution.
Building on her chronic failure, Brown and her Democratic colleagues have proposed hundreds of millions in new carbon taxes on Oregonians. The state will decide how to spend the money on Democratic pet constituencies. It’s as if Brown doesn’t think Oregonians will remember how state bureaucrats failed so fantastically before with tax dollars spent in the state’s energy tax credit program. That got so out of control legislators had to put the brakes on it.
Buehler’s proposal is, at least, more sensible. He would make any such new carbon tax revenue neutral, so it wouldn’t just be another tax grab. If the state is going to bring in more dollars by taxing carbon, he wants a corresponding reduction in other state taxes and fees.
Buehler and Brown agree on many broad issues. They are both pro-choice and say they will keep the state that way. Both candidates have plans to increase spending on education and create good jobs. Both vow to protect Oregon’s clean water and air.
Independent Party candidate Patrick Starnes is also a serious candidate. But his effort is more about a fight for campaign finance reform than running to be governor.
Under Brown, Oregon has diminished. It is troubling and embarrassing that Oregon’s graduation rate is as low as it is. It is tragic that the state does such a poor job of caring for its most vulnerable children. And the state’s pension obligations create a fiscal mess for schools and other governments. No political sweet talk can make that sound right. No plan for one new tax hike after another will solve it. Buehler, a doctor from Bend, will be a new path forward. A moderate Republican, he will balance the Legislature’s Democratic tilt.
He doesn’t see businesses as only something to be taxed. He will bring new ideas to the table such as the ground-breaking bill he championed as a representative in the Legislature to allow pharmacies to issue on-demand birth control. He will broker deals with Democrats to create a state government Oregonians can be proud of and one they can afford.
Vote for Buehler.