BEND, OR -- Freshmen state lawmaker Knute Buehler held his first town hall since taking office last weekend. Rep. Buehler (R-Bend) talked and answered questions from constituents in packed conference room at St. Charles Hospital on Saturday.
He says his introduction to Salem started unusually with the inauguration of two governors in four weeks. But as the excitement has died down and he is transitioning into his role, Buehler hopes to work on bill focusing on his priorities.
"One is to improve the economy," Buehler says. "Two, improve and support education -- these two things are key in improving the economy. And third, make sure government is effective, smart and something people can trust."
Buehler wants to see the education system improve. "The numbers speak for themselves," he says. "We have one of the worst graduation rates in the country. We have a truancy problem. We have a short school year. And it's not just that we need more funding, but we need more than funding. We need to think about out of the box ideas."
He also discussed affordable housing -- not only in Bend, but statewide. "One of the biggest sources of poverty is single parent families with two or three kids. We're trying to revamp the childcare tax credit, and get those tax credits to families raising kids."
Buehler says the Central Oregon lack of affordable housing is due to several factors -- a broken urban growth boundary system and high development fees for building -- among other things. He is introducing some bills that he says would target those areas, and increase affordable options.