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Inside Salem: Legislator’s Letter: An Update from Rep. Jeff Helfrich

Inside Salem: Legislator’s Letter: An Update from Rep. Jeff Helfrich

I get to wear many hats as a legislator. Chief among them is the privilege to advocate for the people of my district and to bring their voice to Salem when it comes time to engage in debate on the most pressing issues facing our state. I get to help my constituents when there are grievances or misunderstandings with state agencies. I also get to go out and see our communities. In my last column, I hope I was able to address the concerns about my new role as caucus leader. Whatever role I may take on in Salem does not change my responsibility to my constituency in HD-52. I still have all my legislator hats to wear, namely the responsibility to pass good legislation and to balance the state budget.

That last piece, while seeming rather innocuous, is one of the most important roles we have as legislators: to balance the budget. It isn’t the flashiest part of the job, but the conversations had on the Joint Ways and Means Committee and Subcommittees are vital to ensuring that all Oregonian’s hard-earned dollars are spent prudently. A major contributor to where those conversations lead is the quarterly “Revenue Forecasts’’ produced by the Department of Administrative Services. They provide the Legislature and the public with an in-depth look at where the Office of Economic Analysis believes the economy is headed here in the state. On November 15th, the committee released its final report for the year. It showed a steady and stable growth in our state’s economy despite some troubling metrics, specifically in population growth and migration.

We are headed into a very busy legislative short session in which we will continue to look for solutions around the crisis that is homelessness in our state, the rampant abuse of Ballot Measure 110, and its failure to deliver what was promised in the way of recovery. We will have the opportunity to have these conversations knowing that our economy is stabilizing, though still keenly aware that too many face affordability challenges. We will also have to face the truth that decisions made by our legislative body have created an environment in which Oregonians would rather leave than stay in our state, leading to the first decline in population in over 40 years. Our revenue forecast may look good for now, but without significant changes this legislative session to better the lives of everyday Oregonians, I worry we may be pushing away our ability to have a stable financial future. So, I leave you with this: where would you focus and invest first to make Oregon a place where families want to stay, not just visit?

As always, you can reach me at or 503-986-1452. My office and I would love to hear your thoughts on what should be prioritized in a stable economic setting, or if you would like access to the reports mentioned above.

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