Head West, Turn Right

The Joint Blog of the Conservative Northwest Blogging Alliance: Red State Points of View from a Blue State Point on the Compass.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Kulongoski State of State Speech (Oregon)

Ted Kulongoski is the governor of the state of Oregon. He was elected to that position two years ago in a rather close, for Oregon, race. Despite all of Governor Kulongoski's posturing, this state has been through a rather hard two years. While the recession hit the entire nation, Oregon was in the top three for number of unemployed, and it hasn't changed (we're presently tied with Alaska as having the highest unemployment in the nation) - yet that hasn't changed Kulongoski's speel.

I listened to his speech today (1/10/05) and was rather appalled by how the man can't seem to get out of his own way. He shot veiled (and not so veiled) threats at the federal government in disputes (disputes if you buy Kulongoski's slant on the issues) regarding the forests, salmon and wilderness areas. He took a nuanced potshot at the property rights issue that the voters just passed in this state; making it clear that he disagreed with it and wanted to 'fix' it. News flash Ted, the land use laws in this state have helped to cripple our economy. The voters have finally figured it out, when will our elected leaders also hear that message?

While the rhetoric that I mentioned above got to me, there were two other comments that he made that really made me wonder if he had taken his meds this morning. I will quote them from his speech (link here). "There is also the matter of global warming. The Administration should never have walked away from the Kyoto Treaty. Global warming is real and it is here today. The facts aren’t the issue. The policy is the issue. I think the Administration’s policy on global warming is dead wrong."

Let's examine a couple of points here, first, is it really within the 'powers' of a state governor to comment on a national/world issue? Yes, he has every right as a private citizen, but to bring it up during a speech that is suppose to be about the state of the state? Second, look at the language that he uses, "The facts aren't the issue. The policy is the issue." Excuse me Ted, but the FACTS are INDEED the issue. Global warming has been disputed time and time again, here, here and here ( and more sites available upon request). The point is that global warming is anything except an established fact so the only reason that Ted can be bringing it up is to establish some kind of policy. What does Ted intend to do, in this state that has $1 billion more expected in revenue for the next two years but still claims that it is $1 billion short of what it needs? Why he is going to do what any good democratic governor would do, he "... appointed an Advisory Group on Global Warming, which reported to me what Oregon can do to reduce greenhouse gases. We will work together to review and implement these recommendations." Where he is getting this extra money for his group or for putting in place the recommendations I'll leave to your imagination. Although earlier in his speech he did proclaim that he would not seek any new taxes; hmmm, I recall he made that same claim when he got elected, then he promptly campaigned for new taxes and the citizens turned him down.

The other issue I wish to bring up almost went unnoticed by many folks. He was speaking about the state educational system, he said "Nothing will put Oregon’s economy into overdrive faster than a stable, well-funded and accessible pre-K through 20 education system." Um, excuse me, pre-K through what??? Grade 20? Um, that's 'well-funding' up through PhD - but what does that mean? Well, folks sometimes forget what happens year-to-year, so allow me to remind you of something the governor espoused in June of 2003 (link), he wanted to change the constitution of the state to create a trust fund which would pay for the tuition of anyone who wanted to go to college in Oregon. Nice idea but there are a few problems - if it's in the constitution, it's written in stone, no matter how bad the economy gets that fund will have be funded to whatever level it's set for for that year regardless of what happens to the rest of the state budget. At last estimate, the funding would have to be around $100+ million per year, and should it pass, there was no restriction that it would only go to Oregon residents; which would mean you could expect to see anyone who couldn't pay for college otherwise to suddenly show up in this state.

Allow me to close my first (long) posting by saying that Governor Ted started his speech talking about how we needed bi-partisan help in the legislature to make it a productive session. However, throughout his entire talk, it was only the democrats in the legislature that applauded all of Ted's various talking points. Bottom line, looks like another long, hard legislative session ahead of us - God Help Us All.

More Later


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