Ron Talks With Oregon Business Summit About Top Priorities for State

Ron outlined four challenges this week at the 13th annual Oregon Leadership Summit that he said present four huge opportunities in 2016 to help make the state an even better place to live.

The issues were health care, trade, education and natural resources.

On health care, he told the Dec. 14 gathering at the Oregon Convention Center that Oregon can lead the way in tackling tough issues like prescription drug prices that have leaped 12 percent in the last year.

It’s gotten to the point where we have these wonderful cures, and the question is whether Oregonians and Americans will be able to afford them,” he said, citing his recently concluded bipartisan 18-month investigation with Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley into the high cost of treatment for hepatitis C.

On trade, Ron pointed out two key numbers: One of five jobs in Oregon revolves around trade and 1 billion people are expected to join the global middle class over the next decade.

The world is craving Oregon products. They want to buy what you all make.” he said. They want to buy our computers. They want to buy our bicycles. They want to buy our fruit and wine. Let’s make sure that we have a modern trade policy, a policy with trade done right that protects our workers and protects our businesses.”

On education, he highlighted the recent passage of a bipartisan bill to provide a much-needed replacement for the 2001 No Child Left Behind law affecting K-12 instruction.

The bill included a provision sought by Ron to help more students graduate from high school by requiring states to identify high schools with low graduation rates and ensuring those schools receive the support they need to improve.

And he said the same bipartisan spirit will help him and Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley tackle the spiraling costs of higher education through their incentive-based legislation to help states freeze or lower college tuition costs.

The fourth challenge Ron outlined dealt with a multi-pronged natural resources policy that he said could make progress on wildfire funding by ending the short-sighted practice of “fire borrowing,” building a bipartisan consensus on an O&C solution and supporting the agreement reached in the Klamath Basin.