To build a strong house, you need a good blueprint, a solid foundation, high-quality materials and expert labor.
The same goes for our state. We all want a prosperous tomorrow for Oregon, yet it won’t just occur by chance. It will take vision, the right tools and the right people. And importantly, it will require all Oregonians to work together today to meld our strategic opportunities into strategic advantages.
As the 2013 Legislature begins, I want to update you on my agenda for Oregon’s future. We can better prepare our workforce for tomorrow’s high wage jobs, help connect businesses and entrepreneurs to capital, and improve our state’s economic condition by modernizing how Treasury handles and monitors investments.
Oregon needs to make post-secondary education and job training more accessible by making it more affordable. At the same time, employers will only stay and grow in Oregon if there is a highly skilled workforce.
My team has worked for over a year with stakeholders across the state to create theOregon Opportunity Initiative. This proposal will create a permanent, growing fund to dramatically increase state-aid for Oregon residents at community colleges, four-year universities and technical/vocational training programs. I am pleased with the initial support of student leaders, legislators, university leaders, and business organizations for this concept, but we have work to do to make this ambitious proposal a reality for Oregon families.
Here is what you can do:
Join us at the Capitol on March 7 for Opportunity Day! Students, educators and business leaders will meet with legislators to help explain the logic and the need for a permanent fund to bolster college access and affordability. We will rally on the Capitol steps at noon to help show the bipartisan and wide-ranging support for this common sense plan for Oregon. The Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee has scheduled a public hearing on the legislation that afternoon.
In addition, we have created both a Tumblr and a Facebook page for you, your family members, and friends to add your own stories about education debt and the need for more student aid. Please post your videos, stories, pictures of debt statements etc... so we can bring to life the scope of this growing problem for our Legislature. Oregon needs to ensure all of our families have the support they need to put post-secondary education and job training within their grasp.
If you want to read more about the Opportunity Initiative, please visithttp://www.BuildingOregonsFuture.org
Below are some links to media coverage:
“Proposal: Fund College Financial Aid Through Bond Sale” – Oregon Public Broadcasting, Jan. 15
“State treasurer touts tuition endowment” – The Register-Guard, Oct. 6
Strengthening Oregon's Investments and Saving Money
The Treasury invests billions of dollars and has consistently done well, yet the investment function needs to be modernized and strengthened. The financial world is a different place today than it was 30 years ago, and changes are needed to help protect Oregon’s investment assets. Together with my colleagues on the Oregon Investment Council, I am sponsoring Senate Bill 120, which would modernize our investment oversight efforts. The bill will allow the Investment Council to better fulfill its mandate of protecting investments and seeking strong returns. In addition, the changes would allow Oregon to save money by reducing outsourcing, bring work to Oregon that is currently being performed by investment firms in other states, and allow staff to better analyze the complicated investments we review each month.
Below are some links to recent media coverage of this idea:
“Bill would turn Oregon Investment Council into public corporation” – Statesman Journal, Jan. 14
“Oregon Investment Council backs plan to manage equities in-house” – Pensions & Investments, Jan. 15
“Oregon could better manage its $70 billion investment portfolio in-house, Treasurer Ted Wheeler says” – Oregonian, Jan. 16
Finally, I will continue to work with Governor Kitzhaber and other partners to implement the Oregon Investment Act - our successful bill from the 2012 session that created a framework for attracting new capital to businesses across Oregon. We are asking the legislature to help further our efforts this biennium to show we can bring additional money to Oregon, and the start-up money for these efforts will come from the Lottery and reprioritizing money that now goes to existing programs – not new taxes.
Click to learn more about the Oregon Growth Board, which was created by the Investment Act.
In another update soon, we will tell you about our progress with the West Coast Infrastructure Exchange, which was formally launched in November. We continue to work with our partners in California and Washington and recently received an additional grant from the Rockefeller Foundation for $500,000 to support our efforts to make public infrastructure projects more cost-effective and efficient.
As always, please don't hesitate to contact me with comments and questions. Together, we can build a stronger future for Oregon.