Oregon House Democrats today announced the formation of a new coalition based on a shared commitment to three principles of governing: accountability, transparency, and efficiency.
Spearheaded by four legislators, the caucus has agreed to work together in an effort to save public money, make government more transparent, and push for increased government and tax accountability.
“If we’re going to invest in schools and the services that Oregonians need, we’ve got to push government to get its priorities straight,” Rep. Ben Unger (D – Hillsboro) said. “It’s our responsibility to make the most out of our limited tax dollars so we can invest in Oregon’s future.”
At its core, the Government Accountability, Transparency, and Efficiency caucus – also known by the members involved as “GATE” – hopes to find a “gateway to a better budget,” according to Unger.
Throughout the 2013 legislative session, GATE members will seek bills that advance these values and work to support their passage.
“We are leaving no stone unturned in our effort to increase government efficiency,” said Rep. Nancy Nathanson (D – Eugene), who established the Government Efficiency Task Force in 2009 to streamline and improve government services. “We’ve already gotten rid of more than a half-dozen outdated or unnecessary laws during this session, and I plan to keep pushing for bills that will improve our system so we can focus on real priorities.”
A bill that would add a “sunset” to a number of tax expenditures is among the group’s first announced priority bills. The bill – HB 2001 – would help legislators make sure that Oregon’s tax dollars are being spent wisely.
“We need to do everything we can to reclaim the money Oregon is spending on ineffective tax breaks and credits,” Rep. Paul Holvey (D – Eugene) said. “We must use every dollar we can find to reinvest in our schools and services to the most vulnerable Oregonians.”
GATE members are also encouraging the public to get engaged with the cost-saving process.
“There are so many ways we can save public money,” Rep. Shemia Fagan (D – Clackamas) said. “Some of the best ideas for saving money come from our constituents.”
Other legislators participating in GATE include:
Rep. Jules Bailey
Rep. Jeff Barker
Rep. Phil Barnhart
Rep. Brent Barton
Rep. Deborah Boone
Rep. Peter Buckley
Rep. Brian Clem
Rep. Michael Dembrow
Rep. Margaret Doherty
Rep. Lew Frederick
Rep. Joe Gallegos
Rep. Chris Garrett
Rep. Sara Gelser
Rep. David Gomberg
Rep. Chris Gorsek
Rep. Mitch Greenlick
Rep. Chris Harker
Rep. Val Hoyle
Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer
Rep. Betty Komp
Rep. John Lively
Rep. Greg Matthews
Rep. Caddy McKeown
Rep. Tobias Read
Rep. Jeff Reardon
Rep. Carolyn Tomei
Rep. Jessica Vega Pederson
Rep. Jennifer Williamson
Rep. Brad Witt
Some of the bills already moved by the GATE caucus include:
HB 2140 - allows local government to earn better returns on investments and put that money back into their communities. Referred to Ways and Means on February 15, 2013.
HB 2141 and HB 2142 – repeal outdated county statutes. Both bills passed Oregon House on February 13, 2013.
HB 2143 – ends redundant audits of county jails, increases government efficiency. Passed Oregon House on February 27, 2013.
Ben has scheduled his second round of constituent coffees. They will be on Saturday, February 9. All are welcome to attend and bring their thoughts and concerns about the issues facing our communities.
The times and locations are:
9:30 to 10:30 at Insomnia Coffee in Hillsboro (5389 W. Baseline Rd.)
11:00 to 12:00 at the Cornelius Starbucks (1882 Baseline St.)
12:30 to 1:30 at BJ’s Coffee in Forest Grove (2834 Pacific Ave)
If you can’t make any of these – but still want to talk to Ben or his staff – please call (503) 986-1429 or email email@example.com. Ben will also continue to hold regular constituent coffees throughout the session.
Thanks to all who made it our for the first round!
Yesterday I was officially sworn is as the State Representative for Oregon House District 29. As I took the oath of office I was humbled by the opportunity to serve our community and honored by the help and support from all the people that got me here.
During the ceremony, the leadership of the state talked about their priorities. I'm new, so I don't get asked to make a speech - instead, I had the chance to share my thoughts in an opinion editorial in the Argus last week. At the top are good jobs, especially rural ones, and robust funding for our schools.
This is a starting point. I want to hear your feedback about my ideas, as well as your own priorities for Washington County and Oregon. Just reply to this email, or comment on this Facebook post where I asked people their new years resolutions for Oregon (and got a lot of great responses).
In terms of my committee assignments, I am excited and honored to serve as the co-chair of the Ways and Means subcommittee on Natural Resources, the Land Use Committee, and the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. These assignments position me well to find savings that we can pass along to schools, and continue Oregon’s tradition of groundbreaking land use planning that accommodates economic growth while still preserving our most precious natural assets and rural economies.
Finally, here’s my new contact information at the capitol - please be in touch:
Representative Ben Unger
900 Court Street NE H377
Salem, OR 97301
Thanks to all who made this election possible. Campaigns tend to focus on candidates – but I believe that our success was built with a team – of volunteers, voters, small donors, and local leaders.
But there's tons of work ahead, call me and email me with questions, ideas and requests. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and my phone number is (503) 683-3042.
Voters in Oregon House District 29 will have a tough choice when their ballots start arriving later this month.
Katie Eyre showed tremendous promise when she ran for an open seat two years ago. During an election when many new Republican candidates parroted Tea Party platitudes, the Hillsboro CPA struck us as someone who’d evaluate issues on their merits rather than a partisan playbook.
She got our endorsement, won handily and largely lived up to our high expectations. In taking a lead role on the Columbia River Crossing, she butted heads with some GOP leaders. In looking to help for low-income residents with their utility bills, she reframed the debate inside her caucus to win support and has emerged as a leading advocate for victims of domestic violence.
Finally, Eyre’s got a good reputation for responding to constituent services and is far more engaged with local government and community leaders than her predecessor.
So, why are we backing Ben Unger?
It was a close call, but there were several factors that influenced our endorsement.
- With deep roots in western Washington County, the Democrat, whose family farms near Cornelius, would bring a needed rural perspective to his caucus and the metro-area delegation. There are no farmers left in the Oregon Legislature, and while it’s been awhile since Unger was out in the berry fields himself, he has a deep understanding of the challenges facing those who make their living off the land.
- Similarly, Unger - who worked on the statewide campaign to protect land-use laws - could help balance the desire to open more land to development with the need to protect farm and forest land.
- His views on social issues (he is pro-choice and supports gay rights) are better aligned with most voters in the district, which stretches from downtown Hillsboro to Gales Creek.
- Unger - who is 36 years old - shows even more promise than Eyre did two years ago. He, more than Eyre, seems as interested in listening as talking and his work on statewide campaigns has given him key contacts outside the district. Yes, he’s a bit unpolished, but he has shown amazing poise in the midst of bruising personal attacks from Eyre’s campaign.
And, those attacks did factor into our decision. Eyre’s campaign has distorted Unger’s positions, criticized him for being a renter and warned district residents not to open the door if he comes asking for their vote.
Eyre has tried to distance herself from the slimy tactics saying she doesn’t get involved on the details of what the campaign says about her opponent.
When pressed, she concedes that the strategy “is not my style” and said that if she’d have to stand up and publicly say she approved of the message, she’d probably balk. Her desire to hold on to her legislative post is admirable. Her failure to reign in her campaign, however, is deeply disappointing.
We urge voters to support Unger, who’s taken the high road in this race and shows tremendous promise for the district.