INDEPENDENT LEADERSHIP FOR OREGON
As Oregon’s independent governor, I will lead with the best ideas – and best people – from both parties and will force them to work together to move our state forward.
Independent leadership means that I will reject the extremes that too often dominate important debates and I will demand bipartisan support for legislation, budgets, and appointments. Requiring that both parties come to the table – and that the majority attract votes from the minority – means there will be more balanced legislation. It means voices beyond the radical extremes in both parties will have a chance to be heard and included; it means an end to the “my-way-or-the-highway” ultimatum politics; and it means more durable policy solutions that are better representative of all Oregonians.
Independent leadership also means that, when necessary, I will pull out my veto pen and remind both parties that it is the people – not any political party, special interest or extreme, belligerent voice – who are in charge in this state. It means putting what is best for Oregon and Oregonians before any political party.
I believe Governor Brown abused her executive authority during the COVID pandemic, undermining public confidence in her decisions and exacerbating political divisions at a time when Oregonians wanted to come together.
A truly independent governor will set a completely different tone in Salem – with the people back in charge – replacing the current system run by narrow partisan agendas or ideological special interests.
Oregon’s homeless crisis is a humanitarian, public health and public safety emergency that impacts many communities across the state. And despite skyrocketing state and local government spending, Oregon’s homeless crisis is getting worse.
Under Kate Brown and Tina Kotek, the number of unsheltered homeless has grown; there are more dangerous tent cities in many more locales; more people using, buying, and selling drugs openly on the streets; more people in desperate need of mental health services; more waste and garbage piling up in public areas; and more people dying or being killed on our streets. No issue demands bolder leadership and change than Oregon’s homeless crisis.
As Oregon’s independent governor, I will lead on homelessness with straight-talk and no-nonsense urgency. I will hold state and local officials accountable for achieving results. Having helped establish the Bybee Lakes Hope Center in North Portland, which provides a broad array of services to people experiencing homelessness, I know that homelessness is a complex issue.
As governor, I will lead with compassion – while also expecting personal responsibility. I will be honest about how the problem has been driven by our state’s mental health crisis, drug and alcohol addiction, access to recently legalized hard drugs, a sorely inadequate housing supply, poverty, and a tolerance for lawlessness.
My goal is to end unsheltered homelessness in Oregon, not enable it by turning a blind eye to the tragedy of tent camps. Even before I am sworn-in, I will convene state and local officials and non-profit organizations responsible for ending homelessness to set a path forward. I want to hear from everyone impacted by the homeless crisis, from the people living on the streets to the small business owners who deal with people sleeping in their doorways.
I have three objectives:
- Set a plan to end dangerous and unregulated camping in public places by creating more safe, designated camping areas and more emergency shelters with access to life-saving services. Oregon cannot continue to use public places as a waiting room for services and/or housing. This failed approach is dangerous and inhumane.
- Honestly address the role mental illness, drugs, addiction, and lawlessness play in the homeless crisis. This will include working to repeal the failed experiment to legalize hard drugs; supporting law enforcement; and mounting a full court press to provide services to those who need them, combined with job-training to ensure people are placed on the road to recovery, healing, and economic independence. Compassion without expectations, the current approach, is only creating more chaos, not durable solutions.
- End Oregon’s politician-created housing supply crisis so every Oregonian of any income level can afford to live here. Oregon needs to build 580,000 new housing units over the next two decades just to close our housing supply deficit and keep up with population growth. Our current anemic pace of home construction will leave us woefully short of meeting that need. As governor, I will get the politicians and outdated rules, regulations, and fees out of the way so we can fast-track construction and reduce the cost of building all types of housing options so every Oregonian can afford a roof over their head and a place to call home.
Even before inflation drove up the daily cost of living for every Oregonian, the cost of housing in Oregon was rising faster than most people could afford. Under Kate Brown and Tina Kotek, Oregon has become too expensive for everyone but the well off. All over the state, Oregonians tell me they can’t afford to buy or rent a home, and many face the threat of homelessness.
Oregon has a housing affordability crisis because we have a politician-made housing supply crisis. For too many years, state and local politicians have thrown up roadblocks to the construction of new housing, making housing more expensive. Today, we are living with the results. Housing inventories are at a record low, while rents and home prices are skyrocketing. Oregon ranks at the bottom among the 50 states when it comes to housing production relative to our needs. Builders tell me it can take just as long to get something permitted as it does to build it. That is ridiculous.
As Oregon’s independent governor, I will make ending our housing supply crisis a top priority so we can reduce the cost of housing and increase options for Oregonians of all income levels. That means every kind of housing Oregonians need to rent or buy – single family homes, apartments, town homes, and tiny homes. We need housing that nurses, teachers, grocery clerks and all Oregon workers can afford. Oregon needs to build 580,000 new homes by 2040. That means producing 30,000 new units a year, compared to the 19,000 we produced last year. I will get the politicians and the outdated rules, regulations, and fees out of the way so we can increase the supply of housing and begin to reduce the cost of housing.
Under Kate Brown, Oregon streets and neighborhoods have become less safe – and in some cases, downright dangerous. Record shootings, murders, drug dealing, overdose deaths, dangerous tent cities, property crimes, and stolen vehicles are now commonplace across the state.
Tina Kotek will only make things worse. Over the past eight years, Brown and Kotek have either led the effort or stood by in silence as violent criminals have been released from state prisons; police departments defunded; mobs, riots and extremist groups allowed to take over streets; public and private property willfully destroyed; and hard drugs – like heroin and fentanyl – made easily bought, sold, stolen, and used on our streets.
As Oregon’s independent governor, I will not tolerate rising violence, lawlessness, or mob rule. I will not defund or demonize our police, but I will always demand accountability and professionalism from anyone in a uniform. I will work to repeal Oregon’s dangerous, deadly, and failed experiment to legalize hard drugs. I will end Kate Brown’s policy of releasing violent criminals from state prisons. I will defend M11 and veto efforts to weaken it further. I will not disarm law abiding citizens, but I will do more to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill, and kids by implementing stronger background checks and raising the age to purchase certain firearms from 18 to 21.
While murders and violent crimes are hitting record highs, Oregon ranks near the bottom of the 50 states for the number of police officers. As governor, I will boost funding for the state police and for the state training programs and crime labs that support local law enforcement. I will show respect for officers, so more young people, reflecting the broad diversity of Oregon’s population, are inspired to sign up for a career in law enforcement. Every responsible police officer, sheriff, and law enforcement professional in Oregon will know that Governor Johnson has their back. I won’t be afraid to call out local prosecutors who refuse to prosecute, and I will make sure our criminal justice system has the resources and people it needs to carry out and ensure equal justice under the law for everyone accused and arrested of a crime. I will enforce Oregon’s twice-approved death penalty in cases where a judge or jury deems it appropriate for a heinous crime. Lastly, I will use the power of clemency in very limited cases and only with extensive consultation with crime victims and their families.
Oregon ranks first for addiction and near the bottom in drug treatment and mental health care services. It’s gotten worse under Kate Brown and Tina Kotek. The pandemic and legalizing hard drugs made things worse. Right now, Oregon is a perfect storm for individuals with addiction and behavioral health problems and for communities in every corner of Oregon trying to manage the negative consequences and relationship between drugs, mental health, homelessness, and public safety.
As Oregon’s independent governor, I will look beyond ideology and partisan divides and take the best ideas from both parties. Democrats are right that we need compassion, services, and housing. But Republicans are right that we should expect personal responsibility, accountability and no more tent cities. Using our streets as waiting rooms for services or long-term housing is dangerous and inhumane. Compassion without consequences is chaos. I believe the state of Oregon should declare a state of emergency to address our crisis of addiction and mental health. We need to rebuild partnerships with all of our county health departments and provide staffing and resources for both inpatient and outpatient care. We need to demand that counties provide a greater focus on short-term shelter with access to life-saving services while longer-term solutions are ramping up.
Finally, the situation with BM 110, which legalized certain drug possession and promised more money for addiction treatment, is unacceptable. People are literally dying while state government fails to show up with the services this ballot measure promised. I opposed BM 110 and will work to repeal this failed experiment. But, until it is repealed or replaced, Oregonians need the treatment and recovery programs they were promised. It’s about life and death. As governor, I will not deflect this responsibility as Governor Brown is doing. But that’s months from now. I believe Governor Brown should immediately convene agency leaders, legislative leaders, addiction recovery leaders and law enforcement leaders to hammer out an emergency plan to stand up services and distribute funds within the next 60-90 days. Voters took a risk in approving this law, now government is proving itself incapable of implementing it.
I am a lifelong responsible gun owner and collector. As a state lawmaker for 20 years, I supported the rights of law-abiding gun owners and have defended the Second Amendment. Like most responsible gun owners, I believe that, in a society of increasing deadly gun violence by criminals, the mentally ill and disturbed kids, we must do more to keep guns away from people who should not have them.
On this important issue – protecting lives and respecting individual liberties – too many politicians would rather fight than find common ground. One extreme wants to take away all guns, restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens and defund the police. That is a non-starter. The other extreme would do nothing and hope the mental health crisis and violence impacting our society, especially among young men, will simply go away. That is unacceptable.
As Oregon’s independent governor, I will lead with practical solutions to keep guns away from those who should not have them. As a Second Amendment supporter, I have the credibility to find common ground on gun safety while far-left Tina Kotek will only drive people further apart. I will support and enforce a stronger background check system, ensuring the integration of information across jurisdictions and appropriately integrating access to juvenile and school information. I will also support raising the age to buy certain semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21. These are practical ideas that will improve public safety. It can be done. At the federal level, the Supreme Court recently issued a decision protecting Second Amendment rights, while Congress, at the same time, passed the first bipartisan gun safety legislation in decades. We can do more in the areas of mental health care and school and community safety if rational people come together in a bipartisan manner to focus on solutions. As an independent governor, I will lead that effort.
Oregon’s mental health system ranks 50th in the nation. I will lead to fix that. As governor, I will ensure that Oregon secures access to some of the $8 billion in federal money available for mental health services, especially in our schools. We need more dedicated, trained counselors in schools empowered to take action when there are warning signs of trouble with a student. I will support local school districts with funding to ensure safer school buildings. And I will support – not demonize or defund – local police, who are vital partners in keeping schools and neighborhoods safe.
There are few places on earth as beautiful as Oregon. Every Oregonian cherishes our clean air and water and wants to protect our public lands, incredible rivers, lakes, beaches, mountains, and trails. For me, protecting what makes Oregon special is non-negotiable. I grew up on the High Desert of Central Oregon and along the banks of the iconic Metolius River. As a state legislator, for 20 years, I represented communities along the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean. I cherish those places.
When I was young, my parents donated land they owned at the headwaters of the Metolius River to the U.S. Forest Service so it would be forever protected and forever accessible to the public. They loved the river so much; they gave it away. My parents’ environmental stewardship set an example for me that runs deep in my DNA. When I was serving in the legislature and private developers wanted to build massive resorts near the beautiful Metolius River, spoiling it forever, I said hell no. I joined other colleagues in passing a law to block the development. It was one of my proudest accomplishments. That year, one of Oregon’s leading environmental groups gave me an award for my environmental leadership.
Today, the greatest threat to our environment is global climate change. While Oregon represents barely one-tenth of 1% of the world’s carbon emissions, we have a responsibility to ourselves and the next generation to do our part to protect our climate and planet.
Oregon’s unique and most important responsibility for addressing climate change is to stop letting our forests burn each year, massive fires that destroy healthy carbon capturing trees, pump toxic pollution into the environment, and threaten lives, livelihoods, and nearby communities. The thing that Oregon can do to most reduce our carbon footprint is to better manage our forest which are burning uncontrollably every year as we fail to do anything about the devastating impacts on our economy, our communities, and the environment.
I believe climate change is real and must be addressed. But too often in Oregon the proposed solutions have been politically symbolic or too extreme, requiring blue collar Oregonians and rural communities to unfairly bear the economic cost of implementing them. The radical cap-and-trade scheme pushed by Kate Brown and Tina Kotek is the best example. With inflation already hammering the budgets of working families, the cost of massive cap-and-trade taxes, fees and regulations would not have only killed thousands of blue-collar jobs, it would also have made the cost of gasoline, diesel, and home energy fuels go through the roof. I opposed the cap-and-trade bill, standing my ground against my own political party. For that, extremists now attack me as a “climate denier,” which is total BS. Over my entire 20 years in the legislature, my average ranking from the left-leaning Oregon League of Conservation Voters is about 60%. I am proud of that. I carefully considered every proposal that came before me and made an independent judgement, based on the best analysis of its impacts, not the demands of any extremist political group.
As Oregon’s independent governor, I will lead the climate fight with practical, common-sense solutions: better forest management, green energy, and greater innovation in emission-reducing technologies. Democrats are right – we need to do more to reduce carbon pollution. But Republicans are right too – we don’t need to destroy good paying jobs and rural economies to do it.
As governor, I will revoke Governor Brown’s ill-conceived executive order to implement her failed cap-and-trade plan through regulatory fiat after she was unable to get it through the legislature. I’ll put Oregonians to work in the woods to better manage our forests, with thinning, controlled burns, and sustainable forestry practices. In addition to better forest management, I will continue pushing Oregon into a green energy future, including protecting the 100% carbon free hydro that provides roughly 50% of our current electricity needs. Like Kate Brown, Tina Kotek wants to tear down critical carbon-free hydro, damaging our regional economy, Eastern Oregon agriculture and vital river transportation. The proposal to take out four Snake River dams could raise energy costs by up to 25%. Oregonians can’t afford that! I will defend our state’s clean and abundant hydro supplies.
Finally, I will prioritize research and innovation through Oregon’s higher education institutions and OMIC, the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center, which I helped get off the ground. OMIC partners with large Oregon manufacturers to create techniques and technologies that are cleaner, greener, and lighter and use less energy.
Oregon is the number one producer of lumber and plywood in the US, and we make products that every American relies upon. We all use more than 5,000 wood products in our daily lives, from the toilet paper in our bathrooms to the timber in our houses. We should be proud they’re made in Oregon. The forest products industry employs thousands of Oregonians and is the economic heart of many rural communities.
As governor, I will promote our forest products economy while protecting environmental values that include wildlife habitat, clean water, and functioning streams. In fact, Oregon’s world class forestry practices enable us to make wood products sustainably, and the research and development occurring every day in private companies and at universities like OSU is elevating the role of wood products as a superior green building material, which reduces the carbon footprint of the built environment and yields resources that will make it faster, easier, and cheaper to build much-needed housing.
As governor, I will look out for Oregon’s forests and for the people who work them. I will support a complete and robust wildfire prevention system for all forest landowners, and I will make sure the federal government, which owns 60% of Oregon’s forest, is a credible participant in our forest management plans.
The catastrophic fires that have hit our state in the last few years are the result of decades of willful negligence in Salem. Kate Brown and Tina Kotek have allowed extremist positions to overtake common sense policy and they failed to adopt sound and reasonable forest management policy. Because of their inaction, today we have 6.6 million acres in critical need of restoration management to prevent more catastrophic wildfires. The recent conservation and management agreement between forestry and environmental groups will impact about 30% of the private forest land in the state. The vast majority of Oregon’s 29 million acres of forest are owned by the government, and the federal government is, by far, the biggest landowner.
As governor, I will provide leadership to better manage our neglected public forestlands to prevent the catastrophic wildfires that destroy healthy forests and pump vast amounts of carbon pollution into the air. I will direct state foresters to immediately implement a program to thin forests, and I will be a very loud voice in Washington, D.C., demanding that the federal government do the same on federal forests in Oregon. And I will make sure the wood does not go to waste. Oregon timber companies are innovating the next generation of wood products. I believe that, with encouragement and investment from the state, these companies could turn the scrap wood from Oregon’s thinned forests into sustainable building materials for Oregon homes. We should be making that happen today.
This year, the state of Oregon relisted wolves as endangered species after a federal court yielded to the demands of extreme environmental groups. This decision totally overlooks the fact that wolves prey on livestock, costing farmers and ranchers considerable valuable commodities. We can protect wildlife species while also looking out for Oregon’s agricultural communities, but all interests need to be part of the discussion. As governor, I will lead an effort to develop a common-sense approach to wildlife management and we will make our case to the courts.
Private property owners need to be at the table when decisions impacting their ability to earn a living are getting made. That is not happening.
As a daughter of Oregon, I grew up in Central Oregon in a family with deep roots in the forest products industry. As a state lawmaker, for 20 years I proudly represented communities with significant natural resource related industries – farming, forestry, fisheries, and ranching.
For decades, politicians like Kate Brown and Tina Kotek have dictated policies and regulations that negatively impact Oregon’s natural resource jobs, industries, and communities. When I talk to people who work in these industries, they tell me it’s not only getting harder and harder to make a living, but they are rarely invited to sit at the table when the policies that impact them are being written. That will change when I am governor.
Oregon farmers and ranchers feed Oregonians and the world. Some 80% of Oregon’s agricultural products are shipped out of state, including 40% that heads overseas. Oregon agriculture has a market value of over $5 billion, with about two-thirds coming from crop production, and one-third from livestock, poultry, and animal production, including dairy. Almost 6% of Oregon workers are employed on a farm or ranch, and more than 8% of state employment is linked, directly or indirectly, to agriculture. Agriculture is a vitally important industry, and it is a very tough business. Farmers and ranchers work 365 days a year. They have little control over elements that directly impact their business, like weather, and frequently they don’t yield profit. The last several years, marked by drought, wildfires, and international shipping debacles, have been particularly tough for farmers and farm employees, and there are huge challenges ahead.
As a state lawmaker, I supported Oregon farmers and ranchers. I did my best to reduce regulatory red tape, and I supported investments that enabled agriculture to diversify and thrive. I will do the same as governor. I will keep Oregon agriculture competitive in a global marketplace, and I will always support our Oregon family farmers and ranchers.
More than a third of Oregon was in severe drought conditions or worse between 2000 and 2020, and, even with the wet weather this spring, a big part of Oregon will be dry again this summer. It is time to stop being shocked and amazed about drought in Oregon. It is a reality that requires stronger leadership. Unlike Washington state, under Kate Brown, Oregon has failed to strategically invest in policies and infrastructure to help our farmers, fisheries and communities make it through predictable drought conditions. As a state lawmaker, I strongly supported critical water and irrigation infrastructure investments – from Tillamook County to Umatilla County.
As Oregon’s independent governor, I will reverse decades of inaction on water policy to maximize water management for all Oregonians. I will do the hard work to keep water flowing to support our farms, to protect fish and wildlife, to manage our forests and, most importantly, to provide clean and safe drinking water for every Oregon community.
Many years ago, I left the Republican Party because it had moved too far right on issues like abortion and gay rights. One of my political heroes was and is Republican U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield who had championed civil rights in Oregon as a young state legislator and throughout his distinguished career in public life. Oregon has a troubled history with racism. The original state Constitution banned Blacks from living here and limited voting to only white men. The KKK had a strong influence in state politics for many years. Blacks, Asians, Native Americans, Hispanics, and Jews have faced discrimination and acts of intimidation and violence in our state, and still do today. I believe Oregon and America have made important strides in overcoming our racist past, but prejudice and racism still exist. I will confront these issues honestly and directly to protect our citizens and help our state live up to our values.
The gay community continues to face discrimination and threats of violence. I will fight bigotry and discrimination in all forms and protect marriage equality in Oregon.
As Oregon’s independent governor, I will speak out against and act against racism, prejudice, and discrimination in all its forms. I will promote equal opportunity for all Oregonians. My administration will include people from all political parties and will reflect the racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity of our state.
I am pro-choice – it is a bedrock value for me and for Oregon. As Oregon’s independent governor, I will make sure Oregon remains a pro-choice state and I will oppose efforts to weaken state laws regarding access to reproductive health care services for all Oregon women.
I believe health care is a place where government needs to show up for people when they really need it. As a state lawmaker, I supported funding to expand health care services to Oregonians in need. As Oregon’s independent governor, my guiding principles in health care policy will be access, affordability, quality, innovation, and transparency. I will surround myself with diverse, smart health care minds from both the public and private sectors. People with practical health care experience as well as policy experts. I will lead on health care with the best ideas from both parties. Democrats are right that health care should be accessible and affordable. Republicans are also right that we must protect the role of the private sector in delivering care to ensure innovation, efficiency, and the unique relationship between providers and patients. I believe providing health care to those in need should be a collaborative partnership between government and the private sector. I do not support a government take-over of the health care system – from insurance to doctors or hospitals.
The pandemic strained our health care system and it remains fragile. As we emerge from this unprecedented crisis, we should consider many policies at the same time. My first goal will be greater emphasis on polices and incentives to keep people healthy and out of expensive emergency rooms. Programs that include mental health and addiction treatment, chronic disease management, and better nutrition, for example, are more affordable than hospital care. We also need to encourage more young people to choose health care as a career. Our health care system cannot survive without a qualified, sustainable workforce, and that workforce has withered away over the last two years. We can help this dire workforce shortage by offering tuition assistance and better vocational training.
We must not let the ravages of inflation and economic circumstances penalize people who need health care and cannot afford receiving it. If we allow people to fall through the cracks, the state will only be paying more for other community services to address their future needs. We need to renew our federal waiver to be able to use federal funds to support creative programs to serve those in poverty. We also must address the cost of health care overall. Former Gov. John Kitzhaber, M.D. is leading an independent task force to propose legislation for 2023 for specific solutions to rising health care costs. I welcome partnering with him and other public and private health care leaders to shore up our services for low-income residents and making sure health care is affordable for all Oregonians.
No one should be denied access to quality health care based on race or income. Unfortunately, our problems with access and affordability have been exacerbated by the political, government, and health care leaders who squandered public trust and credibility during the pandemic. Ever-changing rules, excessive mandates, and policies appeared to be based as much on political science as actual science.
State government needs to be an effective partner with private health care systems. The state needs to be more consistent, reliable, and accountable. We need to have the courage to collect the necessary data and evaluate outcomes from an equitable perspective. Specifically, we need stronger leadership from the Oregon Health Authority to coordinate these efforts, while still allowing local, regional programs to be flexible and creative to serve their own communities. Right now, at best we are inadequately responsive to equity concerns. We need to build an actual plan and drive it by bringing public and private health systems together to execute a common vision.
Front-line health care workers and first responders in every corner of Oregon went to heroic levels to keep us healthy and safe during the pandemic. I am grateful. The proactive and early pandemic actions to slow the spread of COVID led to fewer deaths and less serious illness than in many other states.
That does not mean, however, that every policy and decision was necessary to achieve these results. The prolonged school closures were Oregon’s biggest mistake, especially after the first school year. Our kids lost two years of learning and suffered serious long-term mental and emotional impacts. Putting teachers ahead of seniors in the vaccination line – and then not requiring schools to re-open – was cruel and unfair, and it damaged public trust. Mandated business closures were frequently unnecessary and lasted way too long. Mask mandates lasted too long, and businesses were put in a no-win situation when they were required to be the enforcers.
Mostly, it was the unwillingness of state political leaders, especially Kate Brown and Tina Kotek, to recognize and balance the economic, education, and health care needs of the state instead of simply prescribing severe lockdowns as the only solution. I believe a central cause of this know-it-all attitude and one-size-fits-all policy approach was the nearly unrestricted executive authority used by the governor and the decision by the legislature to work remotely, which allowed them to remain isolated and apart from the people they represent for far too long.
For too long, politicians like Kate Brown and Tina Kotek have taken jobs and job creators in Oregon for granted. Salem likes to spend the money generated by businesses and jobs but doesn’t seem to care a lick about how and where those dollars come from. Serving in the legislature, I was known as a jobs friendly Democrat, frequently battling my own party to oppose job-killing regulations and working closely with businesses to support investment in our state.
For businesses both large and small, efforts to grow jobs are frequently stymied by politicians who view employers simply as a bottomless ATM for tax dollars. The cost of creating jobs and doing business in Oregon is high – from a 41% increase in state business taxes over just three years to ever-growing costly and complex rules and regulations that seem to change with the seasons.
Recently, Oregon’s largest private employer – Intel – announced it would invest and grow in Ohio instead of Oregon. Sadly, I wasn’t surprised. That will never happen if I am governor. I will personally work with employers to ensure they have what they need to grow here. Although Oregon is a relatively small state, manufacturing is a $33 billion economic engine in our state, employing 214,000 people. I will work hard to protect those jobs. But frankly, it shouldn’t require the intervention of a governor to make sure that every Oregon business – small or large – has regulatory and tax policies and a business climate that are friendly to jobs, investment, and growth. When businesses grow, jobs are created, tax revenues are generated, and people enjoy upward mobility and a better quality of life.
As Oregon’s independent governor, I will be on the side of Oregon jobs and job creators. Whether you make wood chips, computer chips, potato chips or fish and chips, state government doesn’t need to be telling you how to run your business or digging deeper into your wallet. This is especially true in economically hard-hit rural areas that depend on natural resources, small businesses and the tourism and hospitality industries. Farming, fishing, and forest products have a bright future in Oregon, all they need is a governor who will listen and act on their behalf. I will be that governor. I will lead to make Oregon more economically competitive, with taxes that are reasonable and fair; regulations that are restrained and responsible; energy that is affordable; housing that is available and affordable; and an education system that is ready to partner and innovate.
Oregon’s transportation system – vital for our economy and quality of life – has failed to keep up with growing transportation needs and population growth. This failure means longer commute times, more traffic congestion and delayed freight and commerce. For too long, transportation policy in Oregon has been dominated by anti-automobile extremists, empowered by Kate Brown and Tina Kotek, who believe, that if we simply don’t build new road and highway capacity, people will just stop driving their cars and trucks and truck freight will magically bypass Oregon.
As Oregon’s independent governor, I will restore balance to transportation policymaking in Oregon – our roads, highways, bridges, rail, airports, ports, pedestrian, and bike infrastructure. My priorities will be safety and capacity to ensure the efficient movement of people and goods. The highest priority is to get a new I-5 bridge built over the Columbia River connecting Oregon to Washington, and improving a critical trade corridor for the entire West Coast. After decades of dithering and some $250 million already wasted in bridge studies, I will call the question and lead to get a new bridge built. I will support a bridge with or without capacity for light rail and bikes, but I will not let debates over mass transit and bikes further delay a vital piece of national transportation infrastructure currently inadequate to the job and a hinderance to our state economy. As governor, I will oppose all efforts to impose tolling on Oregonians for new or old transportation projects or improvements.
Under Kate Brown and Tina Kotek, Oregon tax collection and government spending has skyrocketed, while the value and quality of services has remained stagnant or gotten worse. In some cases, promised programs have never been delivered. Oregon’s tax system puts too much of a burden on average, middle-class taxpayers and every year lawmakers increase that burden by giving tax breaks away to everyone else while increasing fees and adding new taxes for middle-class families.
Over just three years, the state business tax burden grew a whopping 41%. More and more Oregon companies and company owners are exploring options to move elsewhere. Oregon’s complicated and contradictory tax system is almost designed to discourage job creation, investment, and entrepreneurship, which is ridiculous when you consider that our tax and revenue system is inextricably dependent on growing jobs and personal incomes. This is no way to run a railroad. We need a big change in how we tax and spend in Oregon.
As Oregon’s independent governor, I will work to reduce some taxes and tap the breaks on runaway state spending. I will say no to new taxes, and I will lead to reduce and reform the CAT tax and the estate/death tax. I will dedicate more to the state’s rainy-day fund, so we can ride out inevitable fluctuations in the economy without drastic services cuts or tax increases, and, where appropriate, I will exercise my line-item budget veto authority to stop inappropriate spending by the legislature.
Despite billions more being spent on K-12 education each year, Oregon schools continue to shortchange too many kids. Our priorities are screwed up. We’ve become better at legalizing drugs than graduating kids from high school.
During COVID, the order by Kate Brown – supported by Tina Kotek – to keep kids home from school long after it was necessary or wise was one of the most damaging decisions of her eight years in office. Even before COVID, Oregon had one of the shortest school years and worst graduation rates in the nation. It has only gotten worse, as Oregon school kids during COVID lost two years of in-class learning, with far-reaching education, emotional and economic consequences for every child and family.
Most troubling was that, in the face of a decade of school and student performance declines, Kate Brown and Tina Kotek caved to the teachers’ unions by actually reducing academic standards, eliminating the graduation requirement for reading, writing and math. Under Kate Brown and Tina Kotek, high school diplomas have turned into participation ribbons. I voted against this misguided, detrimental policy.
As Oregon’s independent governor, I will immediately restore academic standards and lost graduation requirements. I will ensure that the state respects local control of our schools so that parents’ and teachers’ voices can be heard where they really matter. I will demand accountability for per pupil spending and improvements in student achievement. I will appoint educators who will challenge – not defend – the failing status quo. When necessary, I will take-on the powerful teachers’ union to put the needs of students first. I believe in giving parents more options for their children’s education including charter schools, home schooling, and other alternative education opportunities such as career and technical education opportunities.
As governor, I will do everything I can to keep the culture wars and politics out of our schools while respecting the rights of local parents and teachers to decide what is best for kids in their own community. We need to let school boards do their jobs without Salem politicians constantly imposing their agenda. I do not believe it is fair to force female athletes to compete against biological men in school sports, but local school boards should decide what is best for their own communities.
I believe Oregon schools should not shy away from teaching all of Oregon and American history – the good, the bad and the ugly. We must embrace teaching as an act of education, not a means of political indoctrination. I will always listen – not dismiss – the concerns of parents and front-line classroom teachers, but I will stay focused on what it takes to ensure more Oregon kids get a quality education.
I believe we need more collaboration between community colleges, higher education, and the private sector to drive innovation, job creation and worker training. As a state lawmaker, I helped create OMIC, the Oregon Manufacturing and Innovation Center in Columbia County. OMIC is a hub of innovation and education between major Oregon manufacturers, colleges, and universities, and it is helping more of our young people find a path to quality jobs in manufacturing.