WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2018 HERMISTONHERALD.COM • A7 ELECTION Walden, McLeod-Skinner take on the issues no problem with that and has had multiple meetings on his seven trips this year to Uma- tilla County alone. “I’m talking to people all over the district,” he said. But he does have a prob- lem when people berate and even threaten his staff, he said, that’s become a regu- lar occurrence at his office in Bend. He said there’s is more to the job than holding town halls, and in the past 12 months he handled 129,500 correspondences through a variety of means. “So I’m deeply engaged in all of this,” Walden asserted. By PHIL WRIGHT STAFF WRITER Republican Greg Walden seeks an 11th term as the U.S. representative for Ore- gon’s 2nd Congressional District. But he said this election is different. He is feeling heat from some constituents. He has paid for billboards. And Democrat challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner said she has now raised more than $1 million. Still no threat to the $3.2 million in Walden’s account, but a good show- ing for a Democrat in this district. A look around Pend- leton shows plenty of McLeod-Skinner yard signs and none for Walden. Still, his visit Friday to town drew all of four protesters outside the Umatilla County Court- house, Pendleton, while about a dozen local public and health officials crowded into a conference room to meet with the man. Walden and McLeod-Skinner this week talked about key issues in the race. How they see the district “We’ve got systems that are broken,” McLeod-Skin- ner said, with 50 percent of district residents at or near the poverty line. She took that figure from the United Way’s “ALICE Report” for “Asset Lim- ited, Income Constrained, Employed,” which qualifies the threshold as the average income a household needs to afford basic necessities (housing, child care, food and the like). The ALICE FILE PHOTOS This composite photo shows U.S. Rep Greg Walden and Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who is challenging him for the seat. Threshold includes pover- ty-level households. U.S. Census data shows 13.8 percent of the district’s population had income below the poverty line, while the median household income is $51,813 and the mean household income is $68,305. Walden said he does not see 50 percent poverty in the district, but pock- ets lack economic recovery and growth while others are booming. “This is really important to make sure we’re not left behind,” he said. McLeod-Skinner, too, said growth hinges on broadband. She also touched on the need for a com- pact between states so Ore- gon could take more water from the Columbia River for growth. And she said the Port of Morrow could be just the place for a regional recy- cling hub. the “Trump bump” at 14 cents per bushel, and the tar- iffs are endurable for now. He contended the admin- istration’s use of tariffs is resulting in better deals with Canada and Mexico, with China as the big goal. According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. tariffs in 2016 across all products was 1.6 percent. Mexico’s was 4.4 percent and China’s was 3.5 percent. Tariffs Health care Economic development Retaliatory tariffs on American agricul- tural exports are jeop- ardizing communities, McLeod-Skinner said, and the $4.7 billion bailout to make up for losses is not the answer. “Farmers don’t want to borrow money from China,” she said, “they want to sell wheat to China.” Walden agreed, but he said the wheat farmers he talked to are going to take McLeod-Skinner advo- cated for doctors, nurses and other professionals and tradespeople to serve in rural Oregon in exchange for the cost of their education. “When I think about health care, I think about big picture ideas,” she said. That includes the consoli- dation of services and indus- try, she said, so patients could obtain health insur- ance through the govern- ment or a public-private Walden said rural broad- band is essential to the dis- trict’s prosperity. T-Mobile has an “aggressive plan” to build the next generation of wireless communication throughout Eastern Oregon, he said, and other companies are likely to follow. Walden said public safety, educa- tion, health care and busi- ness all will benefit. MEASURE 104 Amendment could increase requirements for tax vote By CLAIRE WITHYCOMBE CAPITAL BUREAU PORTLAND — Ore- gonians will have a chance to vote this November on how much legislative sup- port certain state tax laws should need to pass. The measure would amend the state Consti- tution to require a three- fifths majority, or “super- majority,” approval in both the Oregon House of Representatives and Senate for changes to tax expenditures such as credits, exemptions and deductions. If approved, the mea- sure would also require bills containing fee increases — for fish- ing licenses, for exam- ple — have supermajority approval. Given the current makeup of the Demo- crat-majority Legislature, those measures would require some Republican support to pass. In 1996, Oregon vot- ers approved a three-fifths majority requirement for bills “raising revenue.” This, supporters of Measure 104 say, meant that any bill modifying a tax expenditure was inter- preted to require a three- fifths majority vote, and this is how lawyers for the Legislature interpreted the Constitution for years. But in recent years, the courts have said that in order to be considered a bill for “raising reve- nue” under the state con- stitution, and thus require the three-fifths majority, a proposed bill must meet two tests: it must collect or bring money into the state treasury, and either impose a new tax or increase the rate of an existing tax. The measure would essentially define what it means to “raise revenue,” and that definition would apply to a broader range of tax measures than the current legislative counsel interpretation. Supporters of Measure 104 say that the measure would encourage bipar- tisanship and force law- makers to work together to write legislation that is palatable to three-fifths of lawmakers. Supporters also point to Senate Bill 1528, passed earlier this year by a sim- ple majority, as an exam- ple of legislation that, in their view, should have required a three-fifths majority vote to pass. That bill disallowed Oregon taxpayers from taking a new federal deduction from their state taxes. Had the Legislature not acted to disconnect from federal tax reforms, projections showed tax- payers would pay about $1.3 billion less in state taxes over the next six years. Opponents of the mea- sure, on the other hand, say it could intensify a culture of “horse-trading” in the Capitol, and create legislative gridlock. If lawmakers know that just a few votes stand between the measure pass- ing and failing, they could withhold support until they get something else they want, opponents of 104 say. They also say that it could be harder to discon- tinue tax expenditures that no longer serve the pub- lic interest, and force cuts to services such as health care and education. partnership. And she wants to allow for the negotiation with pharmaceutical companies to keep drug prices down. Walden rolled through Eastern Oregon on Friday to talk about his bill that helps local communities fight the opioid crisis. “This will save lives,” he said. And he defended his vote to end the Affordable Care Act. “Nobody gets kicked off as long as you’re on Medic- aid,” he said. Connecting to the people McLeod-Skinner, her supporters and Walden crit- ics have hammered the con- servative politician for his lack of public town halls this election. McLeod-Skinner said that’s part of the job. “No. 1 — show up,” she said. Walden contended he has Nov. 6, election night McLeod-Skinner said if she wins, she is heading to Burns on Nov. 7 to attend a public meeting. She said she is committed to maintaining connections with the people of the district. Walden said he remains dedicated to working for the district and the often quiet work of passing bipartisan legislation. He said 92 per- cent of his 129 bills have had the support of 10 or more Democrats. The bill to fight opioid addiction passed with a wide bipartisan margin. Political forecasting web- sites show the House is likely to flip from Repub- lican control to Democrat, but Oregon’s 2nd Congres- sional District remains a Republican lock. Fivethir- tyeight.com estimates McLeod-Skinner taking almost 35 percent of the vote and Walden winning with about 61 percent. That would be a drop of about 11 points for Walden since the 2016 election. Brown, Buehler facing off for governor Housing By PARIS ACHEN CAPITAL BUREAU Editor’s note: This infor- mation was condensed from a pair of Sept. 27 stories in the East Oregonian. Despite running for gov- ernor on the Republican ticket, state Rep. Knute Bue- hler has increasingly used the word “independent” to describe himself. He says he rejects the “narrow parti- san labels” that have increas- ingly polarized the nation. “Oregon is hungry for an independent-minded leader who is able to close a lot of these divides ... and is a gov- ernor for everyone no matter who you are, where you live, who you love or even how you are registered to vote,” Buehler said during a Sep- tember editorial board meet- ing of the Pamplin Media Group. Since his election to the Oregon House of Represen- tatives in 2014, Buehler has voted both with and against his party. This is the second time he has challenged Democratic incumbent Kate Brown for state office. That last time they faced off was for Ore- gon secretary of state in 2012, a race won by Brown. Brown — the nation’s first openly bisexual gov- ernor and the face of pro- gressive policies such as no co-payments for reproduc- tive health care — is seek- ing a final term as Oregon governor. As a Democrat, Brown enters the race with an advan- tage among the state’s liber- al-leaning electorate. Her campaign has focused on her wealth of political experi- ence beginning in 1991 and has sought to discredit Bue- hler’s claim to support pro- choice policies. In response to Buehler’s outreach to Independents, nonaffiliated voters and even Democrats, Brown has high- lighted the times when she brought conservatives and liberals together to address shared problems. Last year, for instance, she negotiated with Republicans to secure their votes for a $5.3 billion transportation package. “I’m the only one in Knute Buehler Kate Brown the race that has a track record of bringing Orego- nians together to tackle dif- ficult issues facing Oregon,” Brown said during an edi- torial board meeting with Pamplin. “I’m a consensus builder and a collaborator. And that’s the same kind of strategies I’ll use if Orego- nians give me the opportu- nity to serve as governor for four more years.” Education Buehler released an ambi- tious outline earlier this year to boost the state’s public education system from bot- tom five among the states to the top five in five years. One of Brown’s top pri- orities for another term is to improve the state’s four-year high school graduation rate. The first part of her strategy is to follow the statute that voters approved with Mea- sure 98 in 2018. Brown says she will seek to nearly double the invest- ment in high school career and technical education to $300 million in the next bien- nium. Secondly, she wants to expand access to prekinder- garten programs to an addi- tional 10,000 students. She wants to expand the school year to 180 days from 165. Finally, she wants to look for ways to improve teachers’ access to professional devel- opment and mentoring. Health care Buehler has pledged to protect Oregonians from federal cuts to the Medic- aid program, which provides health care subsidies for low-income residents, and to advance the state’s inno- vative coordinated care orga- nizations. He said he wants to integrate mental health care into the Oregon Health Plan — the state’s version of Medicaid — and in health care delivered by those CCOs. He says he supports a woman’s right to choose but has been criticized for vot- ing against the state’s Repro- ductive Health Equity Act, which bans a co-payment for reproductive health care, among other things.. One of Brown’s priori- ties is to increase the num- ber of insured adults from 94 percent to 99 percent and insured children from over 98 percent to 100 percent. Buehler has proposed creating 4,000 emergency shelter beds statewide to get homeless residents off the streets, partly with state funding and partly with fed- eral and philanthropic con- tributions. He supports mea- sures to fast-track housing development and offer prop- erty tax abatement to incen- tivize the construction of affordable units. He also is a proponent of tweaks to the state’s land use laws to make it easier to build affordable housing in areas that are now outside the urban growth boundary. Brown has pledged to request $370 million from the Legislature for affordable housing incentives and hous- ing assistance in the next two years. Since she became gov- ernor, lawmakers have allo- cated $300 million to assist in building affordable units, homelessness prevention programs and rental assis- tance. Oregon Housing and Community Services has awarded subsidies and tax credits to build about 15,000 units in the past three years. Public Employees Retirement System Buehler says he would move the pension program’s $25 billion in unfunded obli- gations to retirees to the top of his agenda. “I won’t sign any new spending bills until I have a PERS reform bill on my desk,” he said. Reforms he would like to see would: cap annual payouts to future retirees at $100,000 per year; require public employees to contribute to their retirement fund; and transition the pen- sion plan to a 401(k) retire- ment plan. Brown has spearheaded some modest changes to the pension system, such as incentives for public employers to pay off debt. She said she wants cov- ered workers to have “skin in the game,” and noted that after recent rounds of collec- tive bargaining, 98 percent of state workers will pay 6 percent of their salary for their pension side accounts. That contribution has long been paid by the state.