Newsletter: Jackie Winters, PERS, and #KollaerStrong
REST IN PEACE, JACKIE.
On Wednesday, we were shocked with the news of Senator Winter’s passing. She courageously battled lung cancer for the past few years. Our hearts are heavy, and our prayers are with her family.
Senator Jackie Winters, 82, was always full of life. She was a trailblazer, a stateswoman, a dedicated public servant, and passionate advocate for all Oregonians. She always had a bright smile and that smile and her legacy will far outlive her energetic personality.
She was the first African-American Republican elected to the Oregon Legislature in 1999. Before that she was a successful business woman, owning a barbecue joint called Jackie's Ribs.
To read more about the good Senator’s accomplishments, read here and here.
Jonathan Kollaer v. Leukemia
Jonathan is part of the Dutch Bros family.
On April 16, he went into the hospital because he thought he had the flu. Shortly after he arrived he was told he had Leukemia. He started chemo treatment at OHSU 4 days later. Jonathan is self employed as a tile guy and is well known for his specialty tile work. The doctors told him he will be out of work for at least a year. He’s the sole provider for his family of 3 high school aged kids, his wife, 27 snakes, 2 dogs and a cat. Jonathan’s oldest child and grandson reside in California.
This week, all of the Albany Dutch Bros locations donated 100% of their Wednesday's profits to the Kollaer family to help them battle his cancer. They raised $25,744!
On Thursday, SB 1049 was considered before the House of Representatives. This bill was the Democrat’s attempt at reforming the PERS system, which faces a $27 billion unfunded liability. There is bipartisan agreement that our public pension system threatens our essential public services like education, fire, and police protection. These services are important to save. That is why I voted ‘no’ on this bill.
The bill made a lazy attempt at dealing with the PERS problem. It simply shifted money around and extended the minimum payment schedule on the deficit by 8 to 10 years. The bill would redirect some of the contributions employees make to their retirement account into a “stabilization fund," which is unfair to our public employees. In addition, nothing is to keep this small cost savings in place because the Governor can give public employees that money back, in the form of pay raises for public employees, next time collective bargaining comes around.
Essentially, this bill is tantamount to refinancing a mortgage, which is not a long term PERS fix.
This plan simply kicked the can down the road. “Legislators voted to shortchange contributions to the system for a decade in order to generate cost savings now. It’s risky. If the system’s investment returns hit another rough patch, or the economy hits a downturn, the retirement system’s funded status could take a major hit, which will put more upward pressure on costs.” (Oregonian: Oregon Senate passes PERS reforms in ‘hardest vote of our lives’)
House Republicans all voted against the bill.
"The outcome of today's vote will make it tougher on public employees without benefiting all Oregonians," said House Republican Leader Carl Wilson (R-Grants Pass). "Refinancing the PERS debt will only add to the growing debacle. Republicans seek an effective solution that won't be settled on the backs of public employees."
Wilson is referring to the primary driver of cost-savings in the measure: extending the period over which employers must pay down the PERS system's unfunded liability, without increasing payments. That extension of time adds risk to the overall system because it increases the likelihood that the $90 billion investment portfolio used to make some of the PERS payments will suffer a market downtown." (Willamette Week: Bill Modestly Cutting Oregon Public Employee Pensions Narrowly Passes House After Initial Failure)
If we truly want to save our essential services from PERS, we need REAL reforms. Not shell games, not simply shifting money around, not punting the problem. We cannot continue the "tax and spend" strategy and expect to cut costs, which is what we need.
Even more peculiar than the policy of the bill, was the politics of the bill.
The bill was introduced just 24 days ago. Obviously, PERS reform was not at the top of the majority party's agenda this session to wait until just 2 months until session is over. Additionally, Republicans were not involved in the process. Senator Knopp has long been a leader on PERS reform. He has introduced at least 9 bills this session that would make meaningful reforms to the system. None of them received a hearing in committee. This is just another example of why one-party rule is bad for Oregon. We get one-sided policy.
After a relatively short floor debate, the SB 1049 looked like it was going to fail. The vote ended at 29-31, when Speaker Kotek put the body "at ease" (a parliamentary procedure that allows members to move about until the body comes to order again). As a chief sponsor, when the Speaker realized the bill may not pass the House remained at ease for 30 minutes while Democrats who voted 'no' filed into the Speaker's office one by one. Representative Salinas and Greenlick ended up switching their votes after a talk with the Speaker and the bill passed 31-29.
Gov Kate Brown has unveiled a proposal to cap Oregon’s record kicker payment at $1000 per taxpayer. That would leave about $500 million with the state, she says. That means if you are a “rich” person, you'd not get your kicker even though you paid the most into the system. Why this attack on the successful? “Rich” is relative - look at the levels for joint filers. Doesn't everyone deserve their money back? Who’s money is it? PLUS we already have a system in place where ANY taxpayer can check a box on their tax return to have their kicker go to K-12 education. If one doesn't want their kicker, there's a process to donate it. (h/t Rep. Bill Post)
"The label is the law." Here is an informative video from local farmer, Brenda Frketich, spraying a field and providing a clear explanation how we farmers follow agricultural regulation, keeping our communities and workers safe.
What the video here: https://www.facebook.com/nuttygrass/videos/725338777868685/
Once again, our community taking care of their own!
ALBANY FEATURED IN AAA MAGAZINE
Albany was featured in this month's edition of AAA's Oregon Magazine, Via. They highlighted the Carousel, Sybaris, Monteith House, and the delicious Downtown Waffle.
The Red Cross stopped by the office this week to make sure we knew about the awesome services they provide. Along with their emergency response services, blood drives, and much more, they provide free smoke alarms and installation to those who need them. They told us that they know of at least 5 lives that have been saved because of their smoke alarms. Having smoke alarms is so important. If you don’t have them installed in your home, make sure to do it. Call, email, or sign up on the Red Cross website now!
OREGON CIVICS 101 by Renée Perry
Hello friends of District 15!
This installment, we are taking a look at the Oregon Governor.
In case of contested elections or a tie: The two houses of the Legislative Assembly, will elect and/or determine the outcome.
OR 34: Seven Mile Lane to Sunset Drive paving Lanes are closed for paving with 24-hour work zone speed restrictions. Watch for flaggers controlling traffic. Work is from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., Sunday through Thursday nights. No work will be done Friday - Sunday.
OR 34 is being repaved and shoulder rumble strips added between Seven Mile Lane and Sunset Drive, east of Interstate 5 and west of Lebanon.
Work began May 5 and will be completed in mid-June.