ANOTHER VOICE: Why I voted no on PERS ‘grand bargain’

The end of the 2013 Legislative Session is now imminent, and as we see too often, those in charge down here have waited until the 11th hour to push the most controversial legislation through. Introduced to the Senate was a tax package marketed to all of us (and you) as a “Grand Bargain.” Sounds nice, right?

We worked all session for a bargain to allocate more education dollars to the classroom through the form of an all-encompassing package — one that reforms PERS for its long-range stability, aides the economy and increases some tax revenue. This would make all sides give a little.

That did not happen. What was brought before us was a tax package (HB 2456) and a small PERS COLA readjustment (SB 857), and that second part had a huge risk of dying in the House or even on the Senate Floor minutes after we passed the first — not a compromise.

I think I have built good bipartisan credit over the last two decades in Hood River. Folks in our community know what type of guy I am: a farmer who seeks solutions. I am not ambitious for higher office like many at the Capitol. My goal is to return in good conscience knowing I worked my hardest to do what’s right for Oregon, and come back home to my wife and orchard.

Had I voted “yes” on the tax increase package last week, on a “deal” that ultimately had no bipartisan compromise, it would be impossible to come home proud.

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In this case — on the so-called “Grand Bargain” — there truly was no bargain. Another tax increase on the private sector would only serve the interests of one party and exacerbate our state’s economic problems. Another reason for my vote: We are not supposed to be like Washington, D.C., down here. At the state level communication is easier, decorum is better and agreements are far more likely to happen. Obtaining a true bargain that achieves fair PERS reform or job-boosting incentives was actually possible going into session.

At the beginning, R’s and D’s alike were discussing such a compromise for the solvency of our state since we do not have the revenue to adequately reduce class sizes. I listened and participated because I believe in exactly that. Meetings were frequently happening between the leadership of both parties and I was on board.

However, a few weeks ago the climate down here oddly changed and the joint meetings stopped. That maneuver made me as unhappy as you would be.

Time is running out. We are coming down to our last weekend and I’m very disappointed that we couldn’t achieve our goals of saving the PERS system long-range and funding our schools at the level our kids need in a bipartisan manner.

If you have any feedback or advice for me, please send me an email: Sen.ChuckThomsen@state.or.us.

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Republican Chuck Thomsen is a Pine Grove pear farmer.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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