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Governor Brown Q & A

‘We’re going to need to take proactive measures,’ Kate Brown says of drought and other effects of global warming


Gov. Kate Brown meets with Hood River News editorial board.

Photo by Ben Mitchell
Gov. Kate Brown meets with Hood River News editorial board.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown sat down with the Hood River News editorial board Friday morning to discuss the prescient issues Oregon faces, part of her day-long visit to Hood River.

First, Brown signed the affordable college bill, SB 81, at CGCC Indian Creek. Then, she fit in a talk with the News between her speech at Leaders for Tomorrow and her business tours at Pfriem Family Brewers and Dakine.

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Gov. Brown speaks at Best Western Plus Hood River Inn at the Leadership for Tomorrow’s 20th anniversary celebration. She told the group, “We are all standing on the shoulders of people who came before us and we need to think of that as we start to grow and train the next generation of leaders. I wanted them to think about the future and who they need to start bringing up with them. We’re standing on the shoulders of others and our shoulders are going to be stood on as well.” Other Leaders for Tomorrow speakers were Tofurkey founder Seth Tibbots and 2010 HRVHS graduate Jackson Dougan, who has served as a United Nations Youth Observer.

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Brown shares a laugh with Rep. Mark Johnson following signing of the community college bill at Indian Creek. (On page A1, Brown accepts a bountiful gift basket from the Leaders for Tomorrow organization.)

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Touring the brewery, Brown samples Belgian Strong Blonde ale courtesy of pFriem general manager Ian Hutchings, right and co-owner Josh Pfriem. She also met with local elected and appointed officials from the city, county and port. “It’s a true Hood River success story,” she said of the brewery, pointing to its growth from three to 55 employees since the founding three years ago. “It’s an incredible product that’s breaking barriers all across the Northwest.” Brown also visited the neighboring Dakine facility and met with vice president Roger Roediger. “The products they make are really creative. It’s got Hood River DNA all through its products,” Brown said.

Brown fielded questions about numerous topics concerning the recent legislative session, from education and infrastructure spending to marijuana and the proposed Nestlé water bottling plant in Cascade Locks.

Education

Brown signed the Oregon Promise affordable education bill, SB 81, at CGCC Friday morning, then met with local education officials in a round table, discussing CTE and STEM education.

The complete total number of $7.4 billion (is) a significant increase from the last biennium.

Obviously the growing economy has something to do with that, but we were able to direct the dollars critically important to reducing class sizes, which I know is really an issue in this area.

We invested in Career Technical Ed and STEM education. I followed up the billing signing, Senate Bill 81, with a round table around that particular issue: how can we create an educational system — cradle through career — that will meet the needs of our diverse student body, giving the opportunity to expand their learning horizons but also meet the needs of our workforce, of the future.

We invested heavily in early childhood education, something I’m very passionate about, expanding access to Head Start, early funding, all-day kindergarten — something for the first time ever in Oregon’s history — insuring access to more quality day care programs for working families, but also significantly investing in our K-12 schools.

We added $12.5 million to our ELL program and have revamped that. I hope it will be a more successful approach than our current system, as well as providing dedicated funding for GED programing in student absenteeism, and so I think there’s some dedicated funding that will help different schools districts based on their makeup.

Also there was a significant investment in the Student Opportunity Grant. More than 16,000 students will be able to access these grants. These are additional students, after the current number.

So speaking as a whole I think we’ve made great strides in expanding opportunities for Oregon families across the state.

Sales Tax

I think we have to look at all the options, and I think the challenge for Oregon has been with our active initiative process, that it’s really been a challenge to rewrite our entire revenue code. I know that we are an unbound stool. I think that question is, can we do it in a way that makes tweaks to the system that can survive the initiative process and I don’t know what those answers are. At this point I wouldn‘t take anything off the table.

Nestlé water bottling plant

My job as governor in terms of this particular project is to facilitate the process and make sure that the laws are being enforced — state laws are being enforced. I guess what I would do is encourage Oregonians to get in touch with my office, which they seem to feel free in doing both through social media and paper and phone calls, but I would strongly encourage folks (who) are concerned or supportive of the project to be contacting directly the City of Cascade Locks.

Drought declaration

Hood River submitted an emergency drought declaration June 24 to the Governor.

We’re moving very quickly on these drought declarations. I (have) declared 20 at this time.

So we move very quickly on them because we want to make sure that the communities can access all the available resources, including federal resources. You should know, obviously, the drought and its nefarious companion, wildfire, are at the (top) of my radar screen this summer, particularly with the warm, dry weather we’re seeing. Unfortunately, we don’t anticipate that this is a short term issue. This is a long term changing of our climate brought about by global warming and we’re gonna need to take proactive measures to tackle these issues.

One of the things I’m doing next week is signing an executive order asking my agencies to develop water conservation plans, to submit those plans to the Water Resources Department and make sure they have metrics about their water usage and how we can measure if they’re working to conserve energy.

And I’ll just tell you personally, I’m reducing my shower time and I’d encourage my fellow Oregonians to do the same.

Oil and coal trains through the Gorge

In terms of our agency processes and my commitment on new projects … are to facilitate the process and make sure Oregon laws are being followed … that if there is a public process that it be a transparent one and that Oregonians are able to participate in that process and have their voices be heard.

I will be upfront, I did have a meeting with the governor of Wyoming and they’re certainly encouraging us to move forward on coal projects, but I committed to making sure Oregon laws are begin followed.

Marijuana

This has been an interesting issue for Democrat and Republican legislators to come together. They’ve passed multiple major bills on this issue.

For me, I wanted to make sure that we kept marijuana out of the hands of young people —that means under legal age — and secondly, that we increased adults’ awareness of marijuana, and third that we work to reduce or minimize the amount of marijuana going into the black market.

So toward that end, the bills I have signed I think move us in that direction.

When the legislature adjourned, I get 30 days to sign whatever I have not signed, which is including the bill you just mentioned, and during that, up until August 17, we have legal counsel doing very thorough legal reviews of the bills.

So until that legal review is complete, I don’t commit to signing a bill either way, which is why I think it was a surprise on SB 81. Certainly it was a surprise for legislators.

Transportation and infrastructure

For the Oregon Business Council, business plan, investing in infrastructure and modernizing was a priority for the session and, obviously for me, coming together around a bipartisan package in terms of transportation was critical.

Whether you’re just talking about congestion time in metropolitan areas so people can spend more time with their families, whether you’re talking about businesses getting goods around the state, you know what a quagmire the metropolitan area can be but it’s not just impacting Portland.

When I was in Medford a few weeks ago, companies (said they) are shipping goods to the Port of Oakland instead of the Port of Portland because of the congestion on I-5. It’s not just Portland anymore. It’s impacting all of us and it’s a statewide issue.

Despite the fact that we have strong Democratic majorities in both houses, we need super majorities. And I think it’s really important for major policy initiatives for there to be bipartisan support.

We couldn’t get there is legislation and that is certainly a disappointment for me, but I think we laid the groundwork and built a framework for future discussion about a transportation package.

Rural speed limit bill

A proposed bill would raise speed limits in rural stretches of state highways, including I-84.

It’s still in legal review.

One of the things that I heard from legislators is that on certain highways, if we can do so in a safe manner, that increasing the speed limit makes sense for their communities, so I heard that message.

I would say that the bill picks on some particular roadways and not others; that is what I will need to take a look at.

Just to kind of push back, I’m hearing from Oregonians who are concerned about increasing the speed limit, and one of the reasons that we went down to 55 (mph) and then raised it again was it increased gas mileage. So that is one of the concerns.

One of the challenges for Oregon’s future is as more and more folks are driving fuel efficient or electric or hybrid vehicles, our revenue goes down in terms of the gas tax. So that is a very real challenge that we’re going to need to face.



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gordonfulks 2 years, 2 months ago

While there are always dry conditions around the Western USA, we have to be careful about saying that this year's dry conditions are anything unusual or a harbinger of things to come. When Governor Kate says "This is a long term changing of our climate brought about by global warming," she simply does not know what she is talking about. Former Washington State Climatologist Mark Albright just pointed out what all should know: there is NO TREND in Oregon precipitation. We have had our wet and dry spells since records began in the late 1800s, BUT THERE IS NO OVERALL TREND.

It speaks very badly for our new Governor that she listens only to the climate alarmists who earn a living from climate hysteria. We do not. If she listened to the truth, she would find out that most of us agree that our climate has warmed slightly over the historical record, but less than the three degrees Fahrenheit now claimed by NOAA:

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/

Most of us were aghast when NOAA cooked the books last year to coincide with the Obama Administration's release of its alarmist National Climate Assessment - 2014. Until they cooled the past to give the impression of more warming than has occurred, most of us agreed with their compilations. Now no honest scientist can. The real warming has probably been about half of what they now show.

But note however that they still show our hottest year as 1934, NOT 2014. This angers Oregon's premier alarmist Phil Mote at Oregon State University. Why? Because such an old record clearly says that we are not much warmer today than 80 years ago. And the fact that this is a warm period much like the Dust Bowl of the 1930s says that our climate is clearly cyclical. The Governor will have no idea why. So let me tell you. Our oceans contain much of the mobile heat on this planet and when they give some of it up in a positive Pacific Decadal Oscillation, we get a little warmer. A positive PDO is similar to an El Nino.

What about the record high temperature in Oregon and indeed the entire Pacific Northwest region? That was a blistering 119 F on the 10th of August '98 in Pendleton, Oregon. But before you say that must be caused by human emissions of CO2, I need to say that the record was set in 1898 NOT 1998, more than a hundred years ago!

The bottom line for Governor Kate is that she needs to learn something about our climate before repeating all the political nonsense, however convenient she may find it..

Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics) Corbett, Oregon USA gordonfulks@hotmail.com

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