Every elected official in Oregon says job creation is his or her top priority. Such a goal is impossible to dispute in a state with an unemployment rate that's still above 10 percent and an economy that seems even less assured than it did a year ago. We think local, state and federal leaders can stimulate employment growth by cutting in half the time it takes to wade through government rules and regulations. It's no secret that several new businesses trying to start in Lake Oswego and West Linn have complained about the amount of time required to put their plans into action.
One immediate way to accomplish that would be to begin an audit of the processes that regulate business development and job creation and determine if the rules and regulations inhibit or encourage the timely job creation.
We strongly suspect that in most local communities and state agencies - save the city of Hillsboro, which has learned to expedite construction and development projects - those processes end up delaying job creation.
We have some hope following Oregon Attorney General John Kroger's recent hiring of Portland attorney Fred Granum. Kroger said recently that Granum was brought on board to work with the business community, the governor's office, the attorney general's office and the Legislature to help reform laws and regulations that serve to discourage economic growth.
Granum should be a man in a hurry. And not because his position is only budgeted to last for 18 months. Quick action by Granum, Kroger and the governor's office can serve as economic stimulus in a state that typically sees years go by before public review, environmental impact statements and citizen-involvement processes are completed. If Oregon finds the appropriate balance between process and timeliness, we might have a real chance to create the jobs that this state needs.
We encourage Kroger and Gov. John Kitzhaber - both noted environmentalists - to show that it's possible to protect the environment and public interest while also cutting back on onerous rules and regulations that inhibit the economy.