Office of Rural Policy felled by state budget ax

| Print |  Email
Archives - April 2008
Tuesday, April 01, 2008

{safe_alt_text}

"This is a pitiful conclusion to a wonderful opportunity."


Laura Pryor, Rural advocate

SALEM With hope and fanfare, the Office of Rural Policy was created in 2004 by executive order of Gov. Ted Kulongoski. It died last month with no fanfare and dashed hopes after the Legislature refused to fund it.

The one-man office, which cost about $200,000 a year, was established to help form policy and connect the dots across the state on rural issues. In particular, the governor said when he announced the office that he wanted to spotlight the “particular hardship rural communities are facing during the current economic downturn.”

All of Oregon now faces another downturn and rural officials and advocates feel this is exactly the wrong time to pull the plug on supporting rural areas, which have higher unemployment, lower incomes and higher poverty rates.

“The office was never fully funded or staffed,” says Sen. David Nelson, R-Pendleton. “So the director was doing everything on his own. The rural people thought [the office] was of great value, but the co-chairs of Ways and Means said they didn’t see any outcomes.” Nelson says that one important outcome that originated from the office was the focus on water issues in the 2007 session.

pdf

e-sources


• Office of Rural Policy’s report


• Laura Pryor’s email to the Eastern Oregon Rural Alliance


But Ways and Means Committee co-chair Rep. Mary Nolan, D-Portland, says that in a year when a glum state revenue forecast had the Legislature scrambling to fund the basics, having an ombudsman wasn’t a priority over concrete services such as more state troopers or rural health programs. The office was killed without a hearing.

“I don’t know if we have met all the needs in rural Oregon,” Nolan says, “but I don’t think we’ve met all the needs in any pocket of the state.”

The demise of the office comes as funding for the Regional and Rural Investment Programs, administered by the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department, “is on life support,” says Doris Penwell, an economic development consultant for the Association of Oregon Counties. At one time there was $25 million for the programs; they were given $2 million in the 2007 session.

{safe_alt_text}

"There’s not a lot going right for rural Oregon."


Sen. David Nelson, R-Pendleton

“The needs and wants of rural Oregon are not high on the list,” says Laura Pryor, a retired Gilliam County judge who helped birth the rural office. “That is why the Office of Rural Policy was such a breath of hope. If the governor of this state meant what he said, he would have been its champion.” She added in a Feb. 25 email to the Eastern Oregon Rural Alliance: “This is a pitiful conclusion to a wonderful opportunity.”

Kulongoski spokesman Rem Nivens says Kulongoski is “very disappointed.” Nivens says the governor plans to seek funding during the 2009 Legislature to restart the office if there is a good revenue forecast.

The office’s outgoing director, Jim Azumano, leaves behind a report that outlines the work that needs to continue, including addressing the “one-size-fits-all” approach to lawmaking that isn’t practical for rural areas, and deteriorating infrastructure.

Ray Naff, a director with the governor’s economic revitalization team, says he will work with OECDD and regional members of his team to help pick up where the office left off. “Our job is to take Jim’s work and move it forward,” he says.

ROBIN DOUSSARD



Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

Footloose

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Founded 12 years ago, Keen Inc. likes to push the envelope, starting with the debut of the “Newport” closed toe sandal in 2003. Since then, the company has opened a factory on Swan Island and a sleek new headquarters in the Pearl District. The brand’s newest offering, UNEEK, is a sandal made from two woven cords and not much more.


Read more...

Bike Chic: 7 stylish options for cyclists

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cycling to work is all the rage. But not everyone wants to arrive at the office messy, sweaty — and unfashionable.


Read more...

Announcing the date of the 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon event

News
Friday, March 20, 2015
OBM-100-best-Green-logo-2015-250pxwBY OB STAFF

Join us to celebrate and network with Oregon’s best green workplaces!


Read more...

Car Talk

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Everyone knows cell phones and driving are a lethal combination. The risk is especially high for teenage drivers, whose delusions of immortality pose such a threat to us all. Enforcement alas, remains feeble; more promising are pedagogical approaches aimed at getting people to focus on the road, not their devices.


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

March 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Employment in Oregon is almost back up to prerecession levels — and employers are having to work harder to entice talented staff to join their ranks. This year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project showcases the kind of quality workplaces that foster happy employees. 


Read more...

5 questions for inDinero CEO Jessica Mah

The Latest
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
jessicathumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

inDinero, a business that manages back-office accounting for startups and smaller companies, recently announced it would relocate its headquarters from San Francisco to Portland. We talked to CEO Jessica Mah about what drew her to Portland and how she plans to disrupt the traditional CPA model.


Read more...

Letting Go

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

As baby boomers sell their businesses, too many forget the all-important succession plan.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS