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Manager wants legislators working together


A somewhat contradictory message was delivered to the Westside Economic Alliance at its May 23 breakfast forum by Oregon Chief Operating Officer Michael Jordan.

Jordan, who was hired by Gov. John Kitzhaber to become the state’s first full-time executive department manager in February 2011, said Oregon is making progress reorganizing the government to better serve all residents — even though no one seems to know the exact number of state agencies, boards, commissions and executive department employees in Oregon’s government.

Jordan cited a recent Oregon Secretary of State audit to make his point. He said there are more than 90 agencies, 300 boards and commissions, and 40,000 executive department employees, but no one is sure of the precise figures.

“In the past, making policy, making political decisions and running the executive department was just too much for one person,” said Jordan, who had previously worked as CEO of Metro, the region’s elected government.

More important, Jordan said, was that they all work together toward specific, agreed-upon outcomes. That has not happened in the past because the state has lacked a long-range strategic plan. He and an advisory group representing government, business and labor developed the first one in time for the start of the 2012 Oregon Legislature, Jordan said. Goals include assuring that all public school students graduate on time.

“But I told everyone we weren’t going to boil the oceans that session. Change happens gradually and in increments, and we are still making progress in that direction,” Jordan said.

According to Jordan, the biggest challenge in the 2013 Oregon Legislature is getting Democrats and Republicans to compromise on their key issues.

“Democrats want new revenue and Republicans want PERS (Public Employee Retirement System) reform. If both sides are willing to compromise, those are the elements for a deal,” Jordan explained.

According to Jordan, Kitzhaber is working behind the scenes to help achieve a deal and adjourn the session soon. Momentum is picking up in Salem, Jordan said, because of the recent revenue forecast that showed the state will receive approximately $130 million more than previously expected for the next budget. It will be the final forecast of the session.

Jordan added that Kitzhaber remains committed to investing on infrastructure projects, a top priority of the WEA, which advocates for business in Washington and western Clackamas counties. Jordan said the governor issued Executive Oregon 12-17, which envisions that the state will have $5.5 billion to spend on infrastructure projects over the next 10 years.

It also set forth a formula for spending the money, with 25 percent for education infrastructure, 25 percent for state infrastructure, 30 percent for regional and community infrastructure and 20 percent in reserve to take advantage of emerging opportunities.

Jordan became Metro CEO in 2003. Before that, he was a member of the Canby City Council, Canby city manager and a Clackamas County Commissioner.