Democrat John Kitzhaber has begun the transition into his third term as governor with a focus on jobs.
PORTLAND — Democrat John Kitzhaber has begun the transition into his third term as governor with a focus on jobs.
At a news conference, he called Wednesday the "Day One" that he promised in his campaign to be ready for. Then he said he was forming five teams to work on job-creating ideas for his administration. He takes office in January.
Kitzhaber, governor from 1995 to 2003, won a narrow victory last week and then saw his party lose major ground in the Legislature. The House is split 30-30, and the Senate is probably in Democratic hands with a reduced majority of 16-14 — although two races, including the Jackson County contest between state Sen. Alan Bates, D-Medford, and Ashland GOP challenger Dave Dotterer, are in doubt.
He spoke in terms of bipartisanship and used language that could have come from the talking points of the Republican he defeated, Chris Dudley, as he proclaimed, "The state of Oregon is open for business."
Kitzhaber said the teams of volunteers would develop the campaign ideas he talked about, such as issuing bonds to finance the weatherization of school and public buildings, a program that could be a model for similar work in private structures.
Another team would study ways to generate energy from "woody biomass," mill waste and thinnings from overgrown forests vulnerable to fire.
One headed by state Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Wally Van Valkenburg of the prominent Portland law firm Stoel Rives will study ways to make state agencies easier for businesses to navigate.
For example, many state agencies offer loans for businesses, but it's up to businesses to seek them out. Instead, Kitzhaber said, there should be a central place for businesses to go for loans.
Discouraged legislators in Oregon's evenly divided House from trying to recruit and "pick off" members of the opposing party to break the 30-30 tie. That would just infuriate the losing side and guarantee that legislators would get little done, he said. Instead, he said, legislative leaders have to figure out how to share power.
Promised budget proposals in a week and said he hoped that he and legislative leaders could agree on a budget by the end of January.