A resident of rural Prineville, McLane addressed education, the Public Employees Retirement System, illegal immigration and the proposed LNG Pipeline. A father of three, McLane said he is not a career politician and feels the changes he wants to implement may possibly be accomplished in one term.
McLane would like to see more local control over land use and water use decisions by using logic and science, not political partisanship. He also expressed concern over taxing private wells and metering water, a sentiment the audience emphatically agreed with.
His goal is to see Oregon partner with “productive” again. As a kid, McLane grew up on a farm and said he garnered the impression Oregon was a place where you could work hard, succeed and be rewarded for success— not punished. Oregon should be a place that has a tax structure prioritizing spending rather than emphasizing a sort of mentality that says to those who have worked hard and done well, “For some reason you have not given enough.” Opposed to Measures 66 and 67, McLane asks those who say the rich need to pay their fair share to define “how much (is a fair share)?” He added there is no definition.
McLane feels the next couple of legislature sessions will make decisions that will affect us for the next couple of decades because like it or not, either by cooperation or catastrophe, the federal government is going to reduce the amount of money going to the states. We are going to have enormous needs to meet and budget pressures, he said.
Continuing in this vein, McLane said the state government is imbalanced. It is run by one party and that party has been hijacked by those that pay its bills, referring to unions and environmental groups. When unions supply millions and millions of dollars to fund a certain viewpoint, it punishes business success and seems to convey if people do not live between Eugene and Portland, they do not matter. McLane clarified his issue is not against teachers, public employees or other hard workers.
Swede Christman said, “Every time we turn around, those clowns in Salem are voting themselves a pay raise. They do it in midnight sessions when there is no gallery around to object. As a retired state employee, I am familiar with the waste that goes on. If elected what can you do about it?”
“First off, I will not be a member of PERS,” answered McLane. He feels it is a conflict of interest to be a member of PERS and then make decisions regarding it. Because of the huge cost of funding PERS, McLane said pretty soon there may not be programs such as music, sports or busing in schools.
Another audience member commented that while everyone else was losing their jobs, public employees voted themselves raises. That has to be reformed, said McLane. He added there is no easy answer and he felt it is because one party is in charge. He made it clear it was not the employees who are at fault but rather the unions.
Several times McLane touted the Gettysburg Address saying when he is elected he will mandate the learning of it in schools. A retired teacher who had taught in Central Point, Mae Boren, spoke up and said, “The word, mandate, always sets off bells with me.” Programs were mandated when she taught but teachers were given no funds. How do you plan to raise money for education, she asked?
“Of course, that is the elephant in the room in Oregon,” said McLane. He is not running on a campaign of finding a super plan to solve education. The Supreme Court says there is a contractual obligation to meet funding obligations of PERS and retirements. McLane does not necessarily see a solution for funding in the short term. “There is basically going to be a war over what is left.”
McLane suggested funding education at the beginning of legislature sessions instead of at the end when most money is spoken for. McLane earnestly reassured Boren he is not against teachers but was telling the financial reality of the situation. The contractual obligation, written years ago, is using so much cash some of the basic services are not being met anymore, McLane added.
One man queried McLane on his view of the invasion of illegals in Oregon. If someone is by the definition illegal, it is illegal, said McLane. He understands the governor’s position that illegals need to drive and be properly licensed and insured but “in a nutshell, I am not sure what to do about that (issue).”
Illegals are here to try to earn a living. If we need that labor force, then make it easier for them to become legal to work as seasonal workers or laborers. McLane feels the children of illegals should be educated and get medical treatment. “I don’t believe in exclusions from our schools based on the alien status of parents.” Answering an audience member’s concern of rising health costs from uninsured people such as illegals, McLane said there needs to be health reform although he did express disapproval of what congress is doing now.
When it comes to the proposed Liquefied Natural Gas Pipeline that will transport gas through the Upper Rogue on the way to California, McLane admitted he did not know much about the issue. He plans to study it and several audience members said they would send him information.
“My first goal when elected,” McLane said optimistically, “is bringing balance to the state and its spending and to push back on the prioritization of the one party that has run our state for two decades.”
After the meeting, Shady Cove resident Gary Endicott said, “I like him. I think he is a little soft on immigration but other than that he said what any good conservative Republican would. I volunteered to help him get elected.”
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent