Kulongoski Again Makes Winning Case for Reelection in Second Debate

Governor Ted Kulongoski squared off against his two primary opponents April 10 in a debate hosted by KGW-Portland, again making a strong case for his reelection.

During the televised forum, Kulongoski recounted his accomplishments during his first term including sheparding an economic rebound for the state, expanding health coverage for Oregon children and supporting our troops serving overseas.

Ted summarized his record and vision for the future in his closing argument:

The hardest thing to do in politics is do hard things, and not the easy things. The easiest thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and carp and complain and actually believe that rhetoric takes the place of hard choices. But that’s not the type of governor this state needs in tough times.

When I became the governor, Oregon had the highest unemployment rate and also the highest hunger rate in the nation. Because of the tough decisions I made, we now have more people at work in this state than ever before and we have dramatically reduced the hunger rate in Oregon. Because I made these tough decisions, we have cut over 70 percent of the meth labs in this state. And because of an improving economy, we are poised now to be able to invest more in our infrastructure.

We will make Oregon the alternative and renewable energy capitol of this country and that will free us from our dominance on foreign oil.

We will provide health care for all children in this state and make it more affordable for all our citizens.

And finally, we will have an education system that is developed and fully funded to make Oregon the best educated and best skilled workforce in the country.

I am running for governor because of the things we’ve done. We’re poised now to do even more.

During the question and answer portion, Ted recounted his record of leading an economic turnaround for the state:

I was elected governor at a time when the state had lost 20-25% of its general fund revenues. We had the highest unemployment rate of any state in the country. We had the highest hunger rate in the country. We also had a crisis around the Public Employee Retirement System – a $17 billion unfunded liability. A very difficult time.

I have led this state and governed this state in some of the most difficult times in the last thirty or forty years. We have been very successful. Today our economy – we have a 5.4 percent unemployment rate. There are more people that work in Oregon today than ever in it’s history. We have created over 100,000 new jobs. We are growing this economy. We have the fifth fastest growing economy in the country. And on top of it, you see the benefit of it that we now additional revenue coming into the state so we can start making the investments to actually make Oregon the place we all believe it should be.

On the issue of health care, Ted told the audience about several significant initiatives he launched in his first term:

Let me suggest this to you, what I’ve done. One, I have prioritized children. We have increased having over 30,000 children on the CHIP program since I became governor.

Secondly, I have worked on prescription drugs – bulk purchasing.

I have had an increase in the number student health based centers across the state, there are now forty-seven of them.

I’ve actually worked to consolidate for the state through school employees into a pool, a health care pool.

When the federal government’s plan for the Plan D under the Medicare system was faltering, I actually stood up and said we’ll pay the cost of this.

We have been moving forward to provide both more access to health care and more affordable health care for the people of this state.

Ted also took the opportunity to emphasize his support for Oregon troops serving oversees, while calling again for a change of course in the Bush administration's policy in Iraq:

I am the commander in chief of the Oregon National Guard. I have an obligation to the soldiers who are doing their duty, to look after their safety, their morale.

I think that as the commander in chief of the Oregon National Guard, I have a responsibility to see that, in fact, they are taken care of in terms of the equipment they have – whether it is the body armor they have or the armor of their vehicles – whether in fact when they come home they have education benefits and health care benefits, which I have worked very hard to do. I am very, very proud of them.

The federal administration has to do their responsibility in this too and that is to honor the sacrifice that these troops have made with a coherent public policy.

To view the entire debate online, visit KGW's website here

Posted on April 12, 2006
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