Oregon is a beautiful place to live, but sometimes our weather can be challenging such as the first week in December. The cold weather literally took my breath away. If you made it through the almost zero-degree temperatures without broken pipes or your furnace acting up, you were lucky. For me, my furnace stopped working two different times. The first time after resetting the program, it kicked in and like a miracle it started working. The second time, I wasn’t so lucky. On Sunday, Dec. 8, my furnace stopped working early in the morning. Thinking I could wait till Monday to call for a repair, I put on layers and clothes and snuggled in a blanket.

I didn’t want to spend money on a space heater or other temporary options, as I live on a limited budget like many of you. I told myself, “I’m tough and can handle it!” When growing up, we did not have heat in our upstairs bedroom, so how hard could it be? Well, upon waking on Monday morning to a cool 36 degrees, I wondered how many other people face this and other daily challenges in our state — people who’ve had their hours cut or lost their jobs and now face a constant struggle to make ends meet.

That’s why it’s so important that we keep doing all we can to make sure that everyone in our community — and around the state — can find a good job.

The financial security of solid employment is the best guarantee against a sudden situation of confronting a lack of heat, food or even shelter.

As a member of the Full Ways and Means Committee, I am proud that a transportation bill in 2009 included a total restructure of the I-5 Woodburn Interchange. This project will create hundreds of jobs in our local community, as well as provide much-needed support for existing small businesses.

I am proud that in our special session we included Small and Family Business Tax Relief by lowering rates on pass-through business income and a Fair Trade Tax Treatment for certain agricultural exports, valued at a savings of $43 million for our farmers. In a community like ours, helping small businesses and farmers has a direct impact on creating and maintaining good jobs.

I have also been a consistent supporter of our state’s community colleges, which play a crucial role in helping lots of folks continue their education and training people to get new and better jobs.

The recent cold snap provided me with just a small glimpse of the daily reality faced by many of our friends, neighbors and relatives. And I’m going to keep working hard for you to help more local families attain the financial security that is such a very basic part of the promise contained in the American Dream.

I am very proud and humbled to be a native Oregonian and state representative and send you glad tidings for a wonderful holiday season and best of New Year.

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