Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Kulo Embraces the Bully Pulpit

Fresh off what was reported to be a solid showing against Ron Saxton, it seems like Goobernor Ted is going into publicity overdrive. We regularly get info on Kulo's doings (thanks Charlie!), but lately it seems like there's something behind all the press releases...I wonder what it could be?

Here's a sampling of what Ted wants you to know (and what good sycophants like us are willing to pass on)--

*on stem cells:
“Stem cell research holds the potential to significantly benefit as many as 100 million Americans with new cures for some of the world’s most deadly diseases,” the Governor said. “I urge the Bush administration not to play politics with important scientific research that could save many lives and lead to dramatic health care innovations.”

The Governor conveyed the message in a letter co-signed by Governors Tom Vilsack of Iowa, Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, and Jon Corzine of New Jersey urging approval of HR 810. The measure is expected to pass the Senate on Tuesday and be affirmed by the House on Wednesday. If necessary, the House will attempt a veto override on Thursday.
The measure passed 63-37 a little while ago, four votes short of the 2/3 necessary to override a veto. Gordon Smith, in a rare showing of political finger-in-the-windism, voted Yea.

*on mental health coverage parity:
Governor Ted Kulongoski has directed the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) to adopt new mental health parity administrative rules that require health insurance policies to cover the treatment of chemical dependency, mental or nervous conditions at the same level as other medical conditions.

“This action will make mental health services more affordable, accessible and available – and lead to healthier citizens and families. We’re not only moving Oregon to the forefront of states recognizing the broad social benefits of mental health parity, we’re also looking out for Oregon’s bottom line – greater mental health coverage will prevent more costly responses for the state down the road,” said the Governor.

The new rules are a product of Senate Bill 1, the Mental Health Parity Bill, championed by the Governor and Senator Peter Courtney during the 2005 Legislative session.
This is housecleaning to implement SB1 from the last session, but it's nice to see the change finally made to bring mental health into rough parity with physical health as far as insurance goes.

*on college affordability:
Governor Ted Kulongoski urged State Board of Higher Education Friday to adopt a plan that makes higher education affordable for all Oregonians by the time this year’s eighth graders enter college. The plan, which expands the Oregon Opportunity Grants, is an integral part of the Governor’s Education Enterprise.

“When it comes to a college education, we need to help not only our neediest students, but our middle-class students as well,” said Governor Ted Kulongoski. “This is a plan that should appeal to everyone – because before a student can qualify for a state education grant, he or she must maximize resources from the federal government, from their own families and through their own sweat equity.”
I like this one a lot; it raises the eligibility ceiling to $60,000, which brings it high enough to offer relief to middle income families who still couldn't afford the full college experience. I also like that it isn't simply a gift; everybody involved has to contribute something to the deal.

*on the drastically cut federal timber relief grants for rural areas, of which Oregon is the largest beneficiary:
In a strongly worded letter to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne, the Governor urged full funding of timber payments to rural counties under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2006.

“We’ve made significant progress getting Oregon’s economy back on track – including the creation of 100,000 new jobs – but these budget cuts to rural communities are breaking a 100-year old promise just as they are starting to see real economic recovery and progress. Oregon’s rural schools, roads and land management programs deserve a fair share of our home-grown timber revenues,” said the Governor.

The most recent Bush Administration budget broke a 100-year promise to rural communities by stripping hundreds of millions of dollars from classrooms, roads and community forestry programs around our state, the Governor said.
Ted was beaten to the punch by guys like Wyden and Blumenauer, but it's still good to see him take up the cudgel.

*on state transportation:
Tomorrow Governor Ted Kulongoski will present a check to the Port of Portland to help pay for the newly arrived Post-Panamax crane as part of the ConnectOregon program, after which he will make a major announcement about state efforts to improve transportation in the future. With help from legislators who attend the ceremony, the Governor will present the $7.5-million “check” (an oversized reproduction) to Port Executive Director Bill Wyatt and Port Commissioner Steve Corey. The ConnectOregon program uses $100 million in lottery-backed bonds to fund improvements to port facilities, railroad facilities, airports and transit throughout the state.
Economic development is actually a strong point for Ted; this is an extension of those efforts, and he's right to crow about it. The crane will help energize a port that's been losing business the last couple of years.

You owe us big, Chuck... :)