Pat Reiten is the President of Pacfic Power and the Chair of the Oregon Business Plan Steering Committee.
Oregon is going through very challenging times. Per capita income in our state has been declining for more than a decade, and the current recession is the worst since the Great Depression.
These economic challenges don’t just affect individual wallets, but also our state budget. Our slide in income has corresponded with an equivalent slide in the amount of revenue available to fund quality education and other public services. Combined with rising costs for some of these services like health care and prisons, Oregon is facing a structural budget deficit that will require focus, leadership, and collaboration to resolve.
For the past few months we have been travelling Oregon to discuss these challenges and to collect ideas to address them. We thank those of you who have participated in these conversations and we look forward to additional discussions this summer and fall.
We have launched a new website that describes some of Oregon’s key challenges and a framework for addressing them. We hope that you will find this website a valuable resource and that you will use its features to offer specific suggestions to flesh out an agenda to get Oregon back on track.
We also invite you to participate in the Oregon Leadership Summit on December 13, 2010 at the Oregon Convention Center. This year, more than ever, the Summit provides an opportunity to solidify commitments between business, elected and community leaders to advance specific strategies to improve the state’s fiscal and economic health.
Our intent through all this work is to engage you-Oregon’s business, community, and elected leaders—to shape a three part approach to getting Oregon back on track:
1. Grow jobs and incomes: raising per capita income is the best way to improve the situation of Oregon families and our state budget.
2. Restructure the state budget and the way we deliver state services: Economic growth alone will not solve our problems. As the Governor’s reset report points out, Oregon is facing structural problems that require a new approach to state budgeting and the delivery of state services.
3. Adjust the tax system: Oregon’s lack of reserves and over-reliance on the income tax are creating a drag on the state economy. We can make adjustments in the near term and must get serious about reform for the long-term.
Please take the time to review our materials, participate in meetings and offer your specific feedback through the website.
On behalf of the Oregon Business Plan Steering Committee, I thank you in advance for your participation in this effort.