Around the State
Oregon is a state with regional differences between the Coast, Valley, Central and Eastern Oregon. Potential solutions to address the challenges facing our state need to be reflective of those regional differences and the potential unintended consequences that might be experienced by citizens living in those regions. Key issues do impact all regions but may not be solved with one statewide approach.
Adequate funding for education in Oregon continues to be a challenge even though additional resources were approved in the Joint Student Success Act approved in 2019. The increased resources were targeted to early learning opportunities, reduced class size, high school Career and Technical Education, expanded support for mental health services and high school graduation rates. Increased funding for Community College and University class offerings to stabilize in-state tuition costs is still needed and will be a priority in future sessions.
The impact of COVID 19 on Oregon’s economy and job growth is a challenge unexpected, but one that has created a new urgency to actions the state can take to support employees returning to previous jobs or new jobs created as the economy recovers. With the time for full recovery currently not known, the state will need to continue to understand the challenges faced by employees and take actions which will support all being able to return to full-time employment.
The cost and availability of housing continues as a challenge to many in Oregon. While many new state and local initiatives are underway, the time it takes for results still leaves many unable to afford or find housing, New initiatives to address escalating rents, state bond money to match local funds to build new housing, additional funds for rent payment support are all programs that will help but not solve the challenge. Much more work is needed to identify the cost drivers of housing and working with local communities design strategies to effectively mitigate.
There are more Oregonians that have health care coverage than ever before, but coverage does not mean access to treatment equally. We need to continue to look for ways to reduce the cost of healthcare and what we expect those to pay who can least afford it. We see see costs rising for insurance coverage, prescription drugs, hospital costs and the list goes on. Our health care reforms in Oregon are helping, but much more needs to be done. Without more addressing of these issues at the Federal or at least a multi-state level little true progress will be made.
The impacts of climate change is the number one environmental issue facing Oregon and our world. While our contribution to factors leading to degradation of our environment are small in comparison to other states and/or countries around the world, Oregon must aggressively pursue strategies to mitigate and reduce our impact. That includes reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, continuing conservation efforts to reduce long-term need for increasing new power generation and providing more opportunities for citizens to move around without increasing vehicle miles traveled. We have some strategies underway but much more is needed.