Gov. Kulongoski touts vision to move all of Oregon forward is shared opportunity and shared responsibility
Salem–Governor Ted Kulongoski, joined by family and friends, took the oath of office for his second four-year term as Governor of Oregon on Monday, calling upon all Oregonians to work together in building a brighter future for every Oregonian based on shared opportunity and shared responsibility.
“This is a great moment of opportunity for Oregon. Our economy is strong. Our confidence is renewed. Our belief in the future is redeemed,” Governor Kulongoski told the joint session of the Legislature assembled at the State Capitol. “But to seize that opportunity we must stand united.”
Remembering the hard economy and divisive politics of recent years, Governor Kulongoski emphasized the moment of opportunity facing Oregon today and asked legislators and the public to join him in a commitment to bridging the divides and working together to turn “this great moment of opportunity into Oregon’s longest and strongest period of prosperity.”
“The next four years is more than an opportunity to build on the gathering strength of Oregon’s economy. It is an opportunity to remember why we love this place called Oregon – and wouldn’t live anywhere else,” the Governor said leading into his vision for the next legislative session and his next term in office.
Opportunity for Oregon’s Children
Noting that “government bears a special responsibility to children,” the Governor urged passage of several measures to ensure every child in Oregon has the opportunity to succeed. His Education Enterprise plan would make a sustained investment in all levels of education including preschool, K-12, public universities and community colleges. And he asked the business community to endorse an increase in the ten dollar corporate minimum income tax to fully fund Head Start so all eligible 3- and 4-year olds have the opportunity to enter school ready to learn.
In addition, Governor Kulongoski promised to ensure that every child in Oregon has access to affordable health care through his Healthy Kids Plan, noting that, “insuring all children is the beginning, not the end, of our health care challenge.”
Economic Opportunity for All Oregonians
Highlighting his own story, the Governor touted his vision for helping all Oregonians access the American Dream.
“Opportunity did not carry me across the finish line, but it did put me on the starting line – and that’s all I ever wanted,” the Governor said. “My story is not so different from your story and the story of millions of other Oregonians. We weren’t asking for a guarantee of success – just an opportunity for find success.”
To permanently turn the page on the economic hardships of recent memory, Governor Kulongoski vowed to provide working Oregonians with the skills to compete in a global marketplace so they can provide for themselves and their families.
“Opportunity lifts Oregonians – of every race and ethnic background – onto the economic ladder, allowing them to learn a skill, find a family wage job, purchase a home, pay for health insurance, and save for college,” the Governor said. “Opportunity transforms equity and fairness from moral words into social and economic action – and closes the gap, as we must, between those who have found the American Dream and those whose faces are pressed up against the window of that Dream.”
An Opportunity for a Sustainable Oregon
In talking about state government’s shared responsibility with the private sector on the addressing the growing social and environmental costs of our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, the Governor renewed his commitment to work with the private sector to make Oregon a global leader in renewable and alternative energies.
“A generation ago Oregon led the nation on the preservation of beaches and stewardship of public land. Today we must lead on global warming – and the development of biofuels and other alternative energy sources,” said the Governor. “On energy independence, where Oregon goes, America will learn to follow.”
Opportunity is the Oregon Way
In closing, the Governor called upon the state of Oregon to take hold of the opportunity before us and to remain united to extend that opportunity to all Oregonians.
“Why should we pay so much attention to giving the gift of opportunity? Because opportunity is the Oregon way,” the Governor said. “We do not move ahead by leaving others behind. We move ahead by tapping the skills, creativity and potential of each and every one of us. That makes opportunity a two-way street. We invest in the individual – and that investment pays for itself many times over for all of Oregon.”
The Governor also called on the legislature and the public to join him in putting differences aside.
“Defining ourselves by our differences can never move us forward. And opportunity is all about moving forward,” the Governor said. “But sure as I am standing here, there is only one way that we can take advantage of the opportunity that comes with a growing economy, we must work out our different points of view by working together.”
The Test of Opportunity
The Governor closed with a challenge to the legislature to make the most of today to better Oregon for future generations.
“The test we face today is: Can we ‘see the right’ in a time of prosperity? Or will be too blinded by the light of our good fortune to notice the many among us who are just one opportunity away from their own good fortune?” Governor Kulongoski asked. “This is our moment to decide. This is our children’s moment to flourish. And by extending the hand of generosity, equality and opportunity to all – this is the State of Oregon’s moment to be reborn as America’s State of Grace.”
For the complete text of the speech go to http://governor.oregon.gov/Gov/speech/speech_010807.shtml