Before 1,000 business, community and political leaders, Governor Kitzhaber today gave a progress report on the Oregon Business Plan, called for a continuation of education and healthcare transformation, and outlined a series of next steps intended to grow Oregon's economy.
The Governor acknowledged that while too many Oregonians remain out of work, Oregon has made progress since January, including an upgrade on Oregon's credit rating to AA+, passage of SB 766 to speed up permitting for industrial property, the successful launch of Oregon's National Career Readiness Program, and the implementation of Regional Solution Teams throughout the state.
The Governor called on business, community and political leaders to continue building on Oregon's education and health care transformation efforts in the upcoming legislative session. During the 2011 session, the Legislature passed:
* SB 99, establishing the state health care insurance exchange.
* HB 3650, establishing a pathway to transform the health care delivery system for 600,000 people on the Oregon Health Plan.
* SB 909 and SB 242, aligning funding and governance across the full continuum of education from early childhood services through K-12 and post-secondary education and training.
The Governor outlined next steps on improving Oregon's economic footing, including
* Proposing the Invest Oregon Act to allow the state to leverage a small amount of public resources to encourage a greater level of private investment in Oregon.
* Rethinking revenue policy to ensure that Oregon's tax policy is more rational and equitable; adequate to invest seriously in public education and workforce development; and aligned with the state's long-term economic development objectives.
* Continuing to ensure a sustainable economy to truly move away from a boom/bust economic cycle that depletes Oregon's natural capital and leaves the state highly vulnerable to fluctuations in the national and global economies.
"I vowed to focus on three priorities from day one of my administration. First, I wanted to ensure that the state would be an effective partner getting the private sector economy going again for big companies and small entrepreneurs alike -- and to set the stage for breaking the boom bust cycle that has plagued us for decades. Second, I wanted to transform our health care system to reduce the opportunity costs involved with spending an ever growing portion of our resources on this one sector alone. Third, I wanted to transform our system of public education to create a skilled workforce capable of competing and excelling in the global economy of the 21st century.
One year later, I believe we have made significant progress. And while too many Oregonians still remain out of work and facing uncertainty, we will emerge from this recession stronger and better positioned for the future.
Lost in the headlines about the European debt crisis and the failed Super Committee is the fact that we are creating jobs in Oregon. So far this year we have created over 18,000 jobs -- and we are still working hard to meet the Oregon Business Plan goal of 25,000 jobs by the end of the year. And believe it or not, unemployment is lower in Hood River, Boardman and Corvallis than in the Portland metropolitan area. Why? Because we have islands of innovation in both urban and rural communities that are tapping into Oregon's natural assets and market advantages in new and creative ways.
From biomass energy entrepreneurs at the Port of Morrow creating jobs that pay 150 percent of local wage rates -- to the cutting edge, home grown companies that will emerge from the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute in Corvallis -- an economy of innovation is emerging in Oregon. It is our best hope for the future because it is locally-driven and rooted in our strengths -- from our solid base in agricultural, forest and advanced manufacturing industries; to promising technology research and development; to our strategic location on the Pacific Rim with access to burgeoning Asia markets.
State government can and must play the role of accelerator and barrier buster for this emerging economy of innovation.
That role is multi-faceted -- and begins with the basics -- like our success passing a balanced budget, which in turn was cited by Standard and Poor's as a prime reason to upgrade Oregon's credit rating to AA+. And that budget includes reserves that are cushioning the blow to Oregonians in need of essential services in a time of ongoing economic uncertainty.
To truly move away from a boom/bust economic cycle that depletes our natural capital and leaves us highly vulnerable to fluctuations in the national and global economies we must continue to develop a more sustainable economy based on the following goals -- which I would like to incorporate into the evolving framework of the Oregon Business Plan.
Create and retain economic activity and family wage jobs while reducing our carbon footprint and restoring our natural environment.
Expand our manufacturing sector to reduce our need to import goods and services.
Minimize the export of our raw materials and maximize the export of value added products and advanced manufactured products.
Minimize the need for imported energy.
Keep capital circulating in our state through local sourcing and supply chains.
While it won't be easy -- I am optimistic about Oregon's future. With you help, we can weather this economic challenge, and we can do it without losing our sense of community, without losing our commitment to one another, and emerge stronger and more united that where we began."