BEND, OR -- Representative Knute Buehler (R-Bend) calls foster kids the most vulnerable kids in Oregon, but his proposal to spend $50 million to create a Rapid Improvement Team failed to gain traction during the 2018 Legislative session. Buehler says a lot of time was wasted during the short session on issues that, in his opinion, are far less important. "We've spent a lot of time this session talking about a complex new energy tax credit scheme that failed, we spent a lot of time in Revenue Committee talking about a cow manure tax credit, and creating a new gimmicky fund for a PERS bailout. To me, all those things could wait."
A recent audit of Oregon's Child Welfare System conducted by Secretary of State Dennis Richardson revealed mismanagement and abuse, prompting Buehler's measure. He says Governor Kate Brown did an audit of the Child Welfare System two years ago, but failed to act when concerns were raised. "This is Governor Brown's Child Welfare Agency. She knows it's a problem. Now it's on Governor Brown's shoulders to actually make a difference. But, we can't wait. These kids can't wait. These kids are being starved to death, abused, and even murdered, while supposedly over State oversight. To me, everything else can wait."
Buehler says he's not confident Governor Brown will step in before the 2019 session, to protect Oregon's foster children. "Those kids can't wait for anybody. This is a life and death struggle every day for some of these kids. They're in places that clearly aren't taking care of them, and when we have unexpected new tax revenue of $140 million, nothing else should take priority over these kids, especially putting $100 million into a bailout for PERS." That unexpected tax revenue is based on a new business tax measure that reconnects Oregon to the revised Federal tax code, allowing the state to capture repatriated corporate tax dollars.