Legislative Reception feeds healthy dialogue

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   About 100 people gathered at Jordan Ramis on Wednesday for a Legislative Reception to look at the priorities for the upcoming 2017 session.
   The crowd included 15 state legislators, representing Oregonians as far away as Eugene. 
   Transportation appeared to be the hottest topic of the night with just about every lawmaker talking about it, and WEA members providing comment on it too.
   Senator Betsy Johnson said she hoped when the session begins, lawmakers will bring their "yes face."
   Representative Ann Lininger said she would like to vote for a transportation package and a revenue package this session.
   She talked about how divisiveness and coming to no solution cannot be the end result during this session - lawmakers must work together.
Newly elected Representative Richard Vial would like to see a possible toll road (a private/public partnership) to help ease congestion on the Westside - he talked briefly about a similar road in Denver that alleviated highway congestion there. 

   Many participants expressed concern about the State's budget.
   Representative Julie Parrish talked about the need for budget reform and prioritizing the State's spending.
   The State's projected budget has a $1.8 billion shortfall.
   Senator Mark Hass said he is optimistic the State's revenue system can be fixed, but said there is no sure fire answer - saying it will take getting all of the puzzle pieces in concert with one another.
   He's also concerned about stabilizing the State's revenue system, so it's not as vulnerable to the downward swings in the economy.
   Other topics on legislators minds included education/workforce training, housing, and social services.
   WEA would like to thank senators Ginny Burdick, Mark Hass, Betsy Johnson, and James Manning, along with representatives Margaret Doherty, Ann Lininger, Sheri Malstrom, Susan McClain, Mark Meek, Ron Noble, Julie Parrish, Jeff Reardon, Tawna Sanchez, Janeen Sollman, and Richard Vial for making time in their schedules to attend this event.
   State Budget leaders did announce their budget proposal yesterday.
   To read more, see the Oregonian and Portland Tribune articles.
   To see photos from the Legislative Reception, please visit the WEA Facebook page.