Election 2014 — Economy a standout concern, although candidates for the Oregon Senate, House differ on how to address the issues

Candidates for state office representing the Newberg area — House Districts 24 and 25 as well as Senate District 13 — met for a forum last week discussing issues in the community. In addition to quick opening and closing statements the six legislative hopefuls voiced their opinions on other issues.Post

“I have a lot of priorities and I hate to single one out,” said Ryan Howard, candidate for state senate, when asked about his top legislative priority. “Clearly our economy needs the most work. It’s not something unique to the state. The federal government is dealing with a depressed economy as well as the global economy is depressed.”

LeeThis sentiment was shared by most of the candidates, not just as a priority for action but a general concern in most subject matters.

Other top priorities included education, addressed by Ken Moore (House District 24) and Chuck Lee (District 25), and a “rainy day fund,” a major concern for incumbent District 24 state Rep. Jim Weidner.

“Right now the government spends everything it takes in,” Weidner said.

Bill Post, seeking the District 25 position, shared a different view from other candidates.

“In the last five years what I have noticed is a lack of common sense. Common sense is something that means everything to me,” Post said. “The Oregon Constitution says the legislature has a job — a job — to balance the budget. It doesn’t say it’s there to make a bunch of new laws. I’m not there to make a bunch of new laws. I’m going there to stop bad bills from becoming laws.”

Further into the forum, candidates addressed the biggest issue facing Oregon businesses. There were two standout concerns: unqualified employees and company incentives.Moore

“There are a lot of people unemployed but not qualified to take the jobs being offered,” Moore said.

An interest in vocational training was mentioned more than once.

“We need to seriously look at that and change our education system.” Lee said.

Post and Weidner agreed on eliminating incentives.

“I think that’s the bigger problem, when they start picking winners and losers rather than being fair and treating everybody equal,” Weidner said.

Before issuing closing statements, tax reform was discussed.

“People don’t trust a sales tax because they see it as another conduit to their wallet,” said Kim Thatcher, current House District 25 representative and candidate for the Senate District 13 seat. “I hear people would like to consider sales tax if it replaced another one.”Howard

Most candidates said they would consider implementing a sales tax, but were weary of how to do so.

“I recognize we need to look at the state tax structure but I too am very wary of sales tax because I see it as an easy way to impose a small sales tax and raise it over time,” Howard said.

Moore and Lee said reform should be approached with one word, “strategically” for Moore and “caution” for Lee.

Post disagreed and said there isn’t a revenue problem, but a spending problem.

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