C.O. lawmakers get to work as Legislature begins

Big state budget issues dominate discussion

C.O. lawmakers set priorities for...

SALEM, Ore. - The Oregon Legislature is in full swing, and lawmakers representing Central Oregon are working on a host of issues, including securing funding for southern Deschutes County septic issues and tackling health care reform for Oregonians. 

Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, and House Republican Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, spoke to NewsChannel 21 on Wednesday about their top priorities, and what they want to see get done before the session ends in July.

Republicans and Democrats are trying to come up with a balanced budget. 

"The budget is the dominant issue this time.(legislative session)" McLane said. 

Gov. Kate Brown has proposed a $20.8 billion budget that attempts to cover an estimated $1.75 billion shortfall with proposed new taxes and cuts to higher education and mental health. 

Lawmakers have introduced committee bills that would generate new taxes, one bill would tax wholesale coffee and another one could make car owners who drive an old clunker pay a $1,000 "impact fee" every five years. 

"The majority party is searching for all kind of sources of revenue," Buehler said. "You know, fees on paddle boards, gas, on beer, wine, it's just way too much -- we need to scale it back.". 

Buehler said some of the proposed bills have too much government overreach on Oregonians. 

Both Buehler and McLane agree the state doesn't have a problem collecting money, but a problem with spending more than it brings in. 

Buehler has already presented a bill that would limit the amount of money state contractors give to campaigns for elected officials.

He's also looking to find ways to ease the burden for people who are on the Affordable Car Act, which he said is on very shaking ground.. 

For McLane, it's about securing funding for his district that can help community issues. 

"I'd like to see Crescent get funding for their sanitation district sewer system," he said. "Also some assistance for south Deschutes County because of their septic issues there."

NewsChannel 21 also sat down with Brown and spoke to her about local issues and PERS. That interview will air on Thursday on NewsChannel 21 at 6 p.m.

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