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District 35 representative takes stand to protect vulnerable services

Margaret Dohery seeks to get reserve funds for education, human services, public safety

Spring has sprung, and all around us flowers bloom, plants sprout and people sneeze.

This year, though, plants aren't the only thing growing. For the first time since the recession began in 2008, Oregon is growing again.

Over the past six months, we have seen monthly increases in jobs, averaging 4,500 new jobs a month, and this quarter is the third strongest quarter of job growth since 1990!

We find ourselves doing better than most other states with the seventh-fastest year-over-year growth in the country.

In Salem, this growth has provided some long-awaited good news for Oregon's budget. The most recent revenue forecast predicts an additional $128 million in revenue over the next two years.

Those are dollars we can use to help save class days, keep seniors in their homes and protect the services that keep our community together.

Despite this good news, we still face a frightening deficit, and the actions being considered to balance our budget threaten our economic recovery.

We face devastating cuts to the safety net protecting our most vulnerable. With these cuts to vital services, hundreds of our hard-working firefighters, teachers and police officers will lose their jobs.

This new revenue will help, but it won't be enough.

That is why I am working with Rep. Val Hoyle (D-West Eugene) in order to secure more money for education, seniors, public safety, people with disabilities and low-income families. We are joined by 26 of our colleagues in this effort.

We are asking for $100 million more for education and $75 million more for human services and public safety. These dollars are currently being kept in reserves, unused.

It is time to take some of that money and use it to protect jobs and vital services to aid the recovery and protect Oregon's most vulnerable citizens.

I want to applaud the Tigard community for coming together to protect our schools during these difficult times. By passing the school bond measure, (Tigard-Tualatin School District patrons have) shown that even during difficult times, we must stand for our children and not short-change them of an education they deserve.

As a state representative, I have had the unique opportunity to see the role the Legislature can play in ensuring this recovery continues. Many projects authorized by the 2009 Jobs and Transportation Act are helping create and protect construction jobs across the state while making needed repairs and updates to our transportation system.

In 2010, I championed the Access to Business Capital Act, which has protected or created more than across Oregon in the last year

Currently I am working to extend the changes made under this law, expanding eligibility for businesses at no additional cost to the state. These are the smart investments that will help grow Oregon's future while protecting our bank account.

As co-vice chair of the House Business and Labor Committee, I have been working to streamline regulations for small businesses to help them deal more with customers and less with red tape. We are also committed to creating a 'one-stop shop' for services, licenses and resources to small businesses during their development as well as providing support once they're established.

We are also working to make minor adjustments to business law to help out Oregon's economy. This work isn't exciting or dramatic, but it is necessary. Reviewing each of the bills brought before us to understand why they are needed, or sometimes not needed, is painstaking work.

Fixing laws that hold back business or put undue burdens on individuals is important to keeping our economy on the track to recovery.

Oregon has a long road ahead before we are back to where we need to be. But we are on our way forward. The future of Oregon is bright. Our economy is growing, unemployment is falling, and tomorrow looks bright for the Beaver State.

I promise you I will do everything I can to make sure this growth continues and will fight to protect schools and the most vulnerable from needlessly deep budget cuts. It looks like spring again in Oregon.