BEND, OR -- Nearly 200 people packed a Friday evening town hall meeting with State Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend). St. Charles Bend staff had to open additional conference rooms to accommodate the crowd.
Buehler first talked for about a half hour about his priorities for this session, including improving education, healthcare, affordable housing, poverty and the political system. A number of teachers attending the forum complained about growing class sizes. They told Buehler the state should increase the corporate tax rate to pay for education. "The fact of the matter is our schools are suffering right now; you haven't answered the question, yet, about the corporate taxes," said one attendee. Another insisted, "It's a yes or no question." Buehler eventually answered, "No."
He told the group, "I'm for making sure we have good paying job for Oregonians, that we have a lot more revenue, that we prioritize the way we spend our dollars to make sure K-12 education is our first priority, and we should make our government more efficient and capable. If we do all that, then we can talk about increasing taxes." Buehler added, "I share your concerns about cutting schools. I think we've cut schools quite enough. In fact, I think just the opposite; we should fund schools first in the budget process. Unfortunately not enough of those dollars that are coming into the state are getting into our schools. I think we've had a lot of misplaced priorities."
Attendees also asked Buehler about Planned Parenthood, keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people, foster care, green jobs and the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS).