July 8th, 2013 4:09 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: Legislature, Politics, Business

As Legislature Shuts Down, Speaker Kotek Highlights CRC Funding

lm_kotek01Rep. Tina Kotek - IMAGE: Leslie Montgomery
The Legislature coasted to a close today, after months of futile shadow-boxing over whether to add to early session cuts to the Public Employee Retirement System and to partially offset such cuts with a tax increase.

That ultimately did not happen, to Gov. John Kitzhaber's dismay.

The governor made his displeasure clear in a statement following the announcement of sine die, the Latin term for adjournment that lawmakers cherish.

Here's Kitzhaber's take:

“Legislators have done meaningful work this year, but we have one very important piece of unfinished business,” said Kitzhaber in a statement. “Combining PERS savings and new revenue will prime the pump for sustained reinvestment in education from early learning to college and career training.”

The Governor continues to support a PERS and revenue package that ends teacher layoffs and lost school days, reduces tuition increases for state universities and community colleges, and follows through on his goal to reduce the unfunded liability in the public retirement system by a total of $5 billion – a 30 percent reduction.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), who way back in February rammed a $450 million funding bill for the Columbia River Crossing project through the House, made funding the CRC the first item on her list of the ways in which she helped boost Oregon's job climate this session.

Here's the list Kotek released this afternoon (emphasis added):
Growing Jobs and Strengthening the Economy

·         Positioning Oregon to make critical investments in the I-5 Bridge Replacement project.
·         Leveraging nearly $1 billion worth of bonding capacity to put thousands of Oregonians to work on construction projects in every part of the state. 
·         Investing in critical infrastructure and jobs programs including ConnectOregon, industrial lands readiness, and Small Business Development Centers.
·         Supporting jobs in agriculture by strengthening the Farm to School program and bolstering growing industries with support for fermentation sciences.

In February, passing the CRC bill was an impressive accomplishment, serving notice that the new speaker could bend the House to her will on a politically difficult issue.

But after Washington lawmakers killed the project in late June, the CRC lost some luster.

Here's the CRC project team's updated splash page:


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