Lawmakers discuss looming revenue shortfall
Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, says Oregon is bracing for another economic downturn, even while it struggles to find enough revenue to meet all the funding needs within the state.
"The revenue system is very complicated, and we know a downturn in the economy is coming," she said. "We are increasing the rainy day fund by 1 percent in preparation."
Monnes Anderson joined Rep. Carla Piluso, D-Gresham, in hosting a constituent coffee hour Saturday morning, March 9, at the Rockwood Public Safety Building, 675 N.E. 181st Ave.
The gathering allowed community members to ask questions and share concerns about various issues being addressed during the 2019 legislative session.
Those who attended were interested in health care, school funding, tax reform, environmental issues, infrastructure improvements, gun control, community college support and much more.
"Last week the Legislature passed first-in-the nation tenant protections — and policies aimed at carbon emissions, auto theft and public safety are continuing through the legislative process," Piluso said.
One bill Piluso said they are still refining involves a ban on plastic bags. The legislators are attempting to work with businesses and community members on a plan that works for all parties.
Dealing with car thefts is another aspect she brought up, as current laws make it almost impossible to convict someone of automobile theft. To make a conviction stick, prosecutors have to prove the suspect was knowingly driving a stolen vehicle, which is difficult. The result is that Gresham is the eighth worst city in the nation for car thefts, while Portland is fifth worst.
"This is happening strong in Gresham," Piluso noted. "We are working to change the language of the law."
Piluso is supportive of two bills dealing with gun safety. The first creates new standards for gun storage, while the other would form a registration mandate for anyone who owns an automatic weapon. She also helped form a Community College Caucus to better advocate for school funding.
All levels of education are going to struggle with funding in the coming years, both Piluso and Monnes Anderson said, though final numbers on the budget won't be finalized until May.
Part of the problem is that Oregon will never approve a sales tax, Monnes Anderson noted. She shared that large companies within the state are working with lawmakers to find solutions for school funding because of a need for highly educated employees.
"We have to be cautious of how we raise and teach our kids," Piluso said.
Monnes Anderson also stressed that Oregon has a housing supply issue.
"We have a crisis, and have to make smart decisions to increase the supply of affordable apartments," she said.
More constituent gatherings by Piluso and Monnes Anderson are planned throughout the session.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.