Whitsett, Richardson address monthly JaCo Farm Bureau
Doug Whitsett at JaCo Farm Bureau meeting
State Senator Doug Whitsett addressed a larger crowd of Farm Bureau members on March 20, highlighting some of the bills of interest to folks from that group. Whitsett said that a sour economy has created many problems, but that it wasn’t all bad.
Farm Bureau president Ron Bjork invited both Whitsett and State Representative Dennis Richardson to the meeting. He said the two work closely together on issues of interest to members. Richardson is co-chair of the Budget committee.
House leaders had created co-chairs on each of the committees because of the equal number from each of the political parties. The senate, however was just one member from having the same scenario, the advantage going to democrats who hold a 16-14 majority.
Richardson said that in past years, the legislature has taken economic projections and based a budget on those figures. When things are well, economically speaking, that approach can work. However, in recent years, the projections have been far in excess of what the actual income is for the state. So to build a budget on those figures is “setting yourself up for failure,” he said.
This year, the budget committee passed a budget based on more conservative assumptions and produced a budget some $460 million less than forecast. Then, to no one’s surprise, later projections reduced income first by $198 million, then another $107n million and the latest forecast showed it would be reduced by another $27 million. As the economy of the state worsens, revenues continue to go down, as one would suspect.
Richardson attempted to eliminate the long-term debt of the State of Oregon by paying off all debt within a five-year period. He said that the state currently pays $650 million in principle and interest on debt and adding in some other debt related things, the actual figure is closer to $900 million per year. He added that the final tobacco settlement brought in some $50 million, offsetting some of the deficit.
Whitsett was very blunt about some water issues. When an audience member asked if it were true that removing a b
ucket of water and then pouring it back into the stream constituted a violation of the clean water act, his response was a very blunt “yes.” Whitsett said that there is no way anyone can meet requirements the DEQ has set for water within the state of Oregon. He said the new rules are ten times more stringent than anywhere else on the planet, and are unachievable.
A recent article in a local newspaper listed a number of streams in the Rogue Valley that do not meet DEQs criteria, among them, the Rogue River. Several more streams were named as candidates for the list. In addition to the Rogue River were Griffin Creek, The Eagle Point Irrigation District Ditch, Neil Creek, Coleman Creek and Ashland Creek.
State Representative Dennis Riochardson
Another water issue is HB 4101 which would have taken water from the Columbia River near Hermiston t
o irrigate some 150,000 acres of land in that area. To date the states of Washington and Idaho have taken their share of the water, Oregon hasn’t. This bill would have doubled what Oregon is currently using from about three tenths of one percent to approximately seven tenths of a percent. The water would be taken from winter flows and would be stored until needed during the summer. The bill would have created numerous agricultural jobs in the Columbia basin area.
Both Richardson and Whitsett said that a change in the economic picture could make a difference in the state’s budget and services, but irresponsible spending would only continue the state’s deficit and make it worse.
Bjork wrapped up the meeting by reporting that membership goals for Jackson County were currently at 56.8 percent.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Jackson County Farm Bureau is set for April 17, again at the Black Bear Restaurant in Medford. Meeting time will be the same: 6 p. m. for dinner and 7 p. m. for the meeting.
- JaCo FB to hear Richardson, Whitsett
- JaCo Farm Bureau meeting Feb. 21
- JaCo Farm Bureau December meeting Dec. 20
- JACKSON COUNTY FARM BUREAU – ANNUAL MEETING
- Partial Report of 2011 Farm Bureau Convention