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October 17, 2012     The New Era Paper
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:l/e ra- October 17, 2012 VouR COMMUNITY Page 5 2012 .t 1 t Sherrie Sprenger House District 17 Steve Frank Senate District 9 Fred Girod Senate District 9 Phil Barnhart House District 11 Kelly Lovelace House District 11 By Sean C. Morgan Of The New Era Sherrie Sprenger wants to con- tinue representing the people of House District 17 to Salem. 'Tm notinterested in represent- ing Salem in my district," she said. "I want to represent what's important in my district in Salem." Spmnger, 47, a Republican from Scio, is the incumbent fac- ing Deriiocratic challenger Rich- ard Harisay, who declined a request for an interview. "I want to continue the work I've begun in the legislature, taking ideas that are important to the people in my district to Salem," Sprenger said. Education For Sprenger, who chaired the Lebanon School Board before being appointed to the District 17 House seat in 2008, education is her main focus. In the last session, she was co- chairwoman of the Ways and Means Education Subcommittee. Her goal was to help improve education funding, she said, "and we definitely experienced a level of suc- cess." They moved funding from leg- islative liaisons with the Department of Education to classrooms, for ex- ample, Sprenger said. There are also a number of small boards and bud- gets, such as the Board of Cosmetol- ogy. Some of those kinds of budget requests would have increased their budgets by as much as 300 percent. Her committee was able to roll back some of the increases. Spmnger plans to bring newly appointed state Deputy Supt. Rob Saxton to a town hall meeting from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 13 at the Lebanon School District office. She met with him and told him he needed to talk to people, Sprenger said. "I want people in the trenches to help inform the discussion. I'm about results. You have some schools doing more with less, some doing less with more." PERS Public Employees Retirement System liabilities are increasing costs to districts around the state. It's got to be paid, and the costs to district budgets are going up, Spmnger said. "We need to find some relief for school districts." There can't be a conversation without talking about what's driving the costs, said Sprenger, who is not part of PERS, and she's not inter- ested in taking anything back from retirees. Still, a task force appointed by former Gov. Ted Kulongoski deter- mined that PERS was unsustainable, Sprenger said. "Let's pull out the pieces of the conversation that says it's 'good' or 'bad.' You cannot do it the way it's set up now. How long can we afford to do it? I refuse to be- lieve that nothing can be changed." The state needs to reform the system that people are entering, Sprenger said. It needs to look at the 6 percent school districts are picking By Scan C. Morgan Of The New Era Steve Frank says the existing tax system is unstable and needs reform. "When I walk around and talk with people in our district. I see their distress." said Frank, 59, a Democrat from Stayton who is running for the state Senate DistriCt 9 seat against incumbent Republican Fred Girod. "'I feel they need to have someone in the state legislature who cares about them and knows what they're going through. Our state bud- get is unstable. We need tax m- form." People are worried about the future. Frank said. They don't have healthcare coverage. Some are on a waiting list for Oregon Health Plan coverage. Premiums are exorbitant for others, and they're going up. Frank told The New Era that Sen. Girod said a healthcare transfor- mation bill "stinks." and that's why Frank is running. "We have to move forward with healthcare transformation so people have healthcare," he said. The state budget is unstable mostly because it's dependent on the state income tax, which is the most unstable of revenue streams, he said. It puts people at risk. State Budget Sen. Frank Morse of Albany, who resigned last month, tried for years to move forward a new tax plan that would generate an additional $1 billion in revenue, Frank said. Instead of people paying proper- ty tax and state income tax, everyone would pay his or her fair share into the state budget, he said. The kicker refund would go to a rainy day fund until it reached a certain level of funding, a percentage of the budget. Anything beyond that percentage would be returned to taxpayers. The rainy day fund would cover expenses during economic distress or when the state can't meet the needs of seniors, the disabled and education. The idea is to get those who aren't paying their fair share to pay, Dank said. That's why Measures 66 and 67 moved forward. There are a lot of people who utilize state resources but who do not pay into the budget, he said. His vision of tax reform includes a 5 percent sales tax, a property tax cut; a reduction in income tax rates to 2, 4 and 6 percent; a reduction in capital gains taxes to 4 percent; and a refundable earned income credit of 25 percent. Frank believes it is a balanced approach to taxes. Healthcare and Education "Healthcare reform, to me, is a critical area to get costs in line," Frank said. It will move people to using CCOs instead of visiting emer- gency rooms, reducing costs. Run- ning money through the heahhcare exchanges is a great idea, and the pool for small businesses should help. Frank likes the 40-40-20 goal, with 40 percent of Omgonians earn- By Sean C. Morgan Of The New Era Fred Girod says he's the guy to stand up for rural Oregon in the state Senate. The Stayton resident is the in- cumbent running for state Senate District 9 against Democrat Steve Frank. Girod said he is recovering well from surgery on Oct. 2. He had cancer in his tonsil, and-the cancer was re- moved. "The mar- gins and nodes are negative." he said. "I couldn't be happier, and I'm expected t6 live a long life." Girod. who has held the office since 2008. is running again because he loves rural Oregon. "It needs to be protected from Portland and Eugene, and I think I'm the guy to do it," Girod said. "Over- regulation of timber and agriculture We're a natural resource based economy, and they've put a tremen- dous number of us out of work." The science they use is faulty, Girod said. The No. l cause of green- house emissions in Oregon is from forest fires, yet they stop the harvest of timber. "I think I've done a really super job in the senate." Girod said. The people who support him are natural resource interests because he is a voice for rural Oregon. He has the experience and de- veloped the relationships necessary to work with Portland legislators to protect rural Oregon, he said. He points to fire suppression funding as an example. "Every time they try to take a dime, I have to go out there and scream bloody murder." He said right now it's the small- er things where he can make a differ- ence. If the Senate picks up another Republican, they'll be able to do more on larger issues. He believes in small govern- ment, he said, and in that small gov- ernment, "education is the kingpin." He favors cutting several agen- cies, freeing up cash for educa- tion, which has been subject to cuts around the state since the beginning of the recession in 2008. The Department of Consumer Protection Services is a $1 billion in- dustry that could sustain huge cuts, he said. The Department of Envi- ronmental Quality is redundant with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Huge cuts could be made, and they are overdue, he said. "Again, that's something Portland and Eu- gene hang on to." PERS . Education costs are rising, thanks to increasing Public Em- ployees Retirement System rates on local agencies and school districts, he said. That came after 24 years of Democrat governors who have given great contracts to employees that the agencies have to honor today. There was a fix with reforms that created a third tier of employee By Scan C. Morgan Of The New Era Phil Barnhart isn't done yet. The problem that brought him to the Oregon legislature isn't solved. Barnhart, 66, of Eugene was an- gry about education funding when he ran for the Oregon House of Repre- sentatives for the first time in 2000. The legislature has made incremen- tal progress, he says, but it still hasn't solved the problems. Barnhart is the incumbent Democrat run- ning against Re- publican Kelly Lovelace for state House Dis- trict 11. "I had no plans when I ran to be there that long," Barnhart said. But with most representatives serving about three two-year terms, longer- term legislators like Barnhart serve as institutional memory for the leg- islature. Barnhart ran because of school funding, he said. Measure 5 had changed local school funding, flip- ping the funding picture around from 70 percent local and 30 percent state. Eugene had to lay off 100 teach- ers, Barnhart said, adding that his son lost a "'wonderful" fifth-grade teacher to the layoffs. "I got angry.'" A couple of years later, redis- tricting brought him to the Sweet Home area. as his district became largely rural. "For me, it was a huge educa- tion," Barnhart said. "I needed to learn about issues I hadn't before." Cougars The encroachment of cougars into the Sweet Home area is one of those, and he's learned it doesn't have an easy answer. "This is one of those situations where the people adopted a rule," Bamhart said. "The legislature is very reluctant to change that." Recently, the legislature autho- rized the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to do more to manage cougars, he said, especially when they are entering cities and endan- gering livestock. He had just learned about a horse that had to be put down on Northside Drive, just outside Sweet Home, following a cougar attack and two sightings the same week inside the city limits, one on Main Street. "I'm not convinced that we have solved that problem," Bamhart said. "I get really nervous when I hear sto- ries like you just told me. "The first time a cougar kills a 3-year-old, that law wilt be gone and the opposite will be in place," Barn- hart said, referring to the voter-ap- proved law against hunting the cats with dogs. "I tend to be a pragmatist," Barnhart said. ' I want to figure Out what works. I don't want cougars at- tacking 3-year-old babies." But cougars are part of the en- vironment too, he. said. "Where the happy medium is, I don't know. It's clear to me that we're not there yet." He will support efforts to man- By Sean C. Morgan Of The New Era Kelly Lovelace believes that turning around the economy and creating more jobs will turn around Oregon. Lovelace, 63. of Cmswell. is the Republican candidate for state House District 11 seat occupied by Phil Barnhart. The district in- cludes rural ar- eas southwest r of the Sweet Home city lim- its, west along Highway 228 to Harrisburg and Halsey and south to Coburg and Eugene. "I'm run- ~ ning because we've actually kind of got a mess," Lovelace said. "We've got way more regulations than we need, and we'm spending way more on government than we need for the economy we have right nOW." State Budgeting To deal with its revenue prob- lems, the state needs to find a way to improve the job situation, he said, and more taxes are not the so- lution: The role of government is to provide a civil society, in which to raise families and make things work, Lovelace said. "So the first thing we should be thinking about is public safety. Next should be education." Both should be funded ad- equately, he said. "From there, you decide what you can afford and how you're going to fund it." With the income tax, property tax and fees, the people should ex- pect that society is protected by an adequate police force and court sys- tem, Lovelace said, and that support needs to go to the local level. One of the things driving in- creasing expenses is the Public Employees Retirement System, he said. 'Tm not against a retirement system for our public employees. I guess my question is, at what level? Because of unions and other drivers and the the unwillingness of public officials to address it, we have a system in place right now that's out of control." To solve the problem, "what we've got to do is we've got to have an economy that will support it." Timber and Land Use From Springfield to Sweet Home, timber was a driving force in the economy, and a limited group of people have been allowed to lock out the resource, especially west of the Cascades, Lovelace said. Or- egon could join other states in the west and begin to take back what should have belonged to the state in the first place. The issue goes back to the introduction of each state into the union, he said. They should have been treated equally, but vast tracts of land remained federal property, something he contests is unconsti- tutional. "All the federal land should at least belong to the state, and a much bigger part of it should be private land," Lovelace said. "They've See Sprenger, page 15 See Frank, page 14 See Girod, page 15 See Barnhart, page 7 See Lovelace, page 7