SALEM – During the 2019 legislative session Rep. Dan Rayfield (D – Corvallis) served as the top budget writer for the Oregon House of Representatives helping to draft a state budget that made historic investments in education, housing, behavioral health, and child welfare. Rayfield also made time during the legislative session to tackle the massive task of reforming Oregon’s campaign finance laws – a top priority for his office and a feat that hadn’t been accomplished for more than 40 years.
At the same time Rayfield was helping to craft Oregon’s budget, he led the charge in the legislature on campaign finance reform. With his leadership and commitment to bring together a 40-plus member work group, the legislature passed several polices to limit campaign contributions, increase transparency in campaigns, and expand access for voters. These bills included:
• Campaign Advertisement Disclosure (HB 2716) – Requires political advertisements to disclose what organization paid for the advertisement and who are the top five funders to the organization
• Shining a Light on “Dark Money” (HB 2983) – Requires organizations that contribute to political campaigns to disclose their donors
• Paid Postage (SB 861) – Ensures all Oregonians can get their ballots in by no longer requiring return envelops to have a stamp
• Constitutional Amendment (SJR 18) – Refers a constitutional amendment that would allow for stronger regulations on campaign finance, the referral will be decided by the voters in the 2020 November election
“Campaign finance reform has been a passion of mine since I was 19 years old. It’s what got me interested in politics,” Rayfield said. “These bills represent a huge step toward finally getting big money out of our political system in Oregon.”
Campaign finance reform has been one of the most difficult reforms to pass in the Oregon Legislature. The last time the Oregon Legislature passed campaign finance reform was more than 40 years ago.
In his role as the Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, Rayfield oversaw historic investments in education and numerous critical services that Oregonians rely on. Some of those investments included:
• 2 billion investment for K-12 education to improve outcomes, increase instructional time, and decrease student-to-teacher ratios.
• Higher education investments, including increases in college financial assistance (Oregon Opportunity Grant) and community college and university base budgets to help stave off significant tuition increases.
• Housing investments, including preventing homelessness, preserving affordable housing, and increasing housing supply.
• Child welfare investment, including additional caseworkers and increased support for foster care.
• Mental health service investments, including more help to divert people from jail, supporting the behavioral health workforce, and suicide prevention.
In addition to making historic investments, Rayfield also helped craft a financially responsible budget that set aside historic reserves to aid the state in the event of an economic downturn. By the end of 2019-21 biennium the state is estimated to have 2.4 billion dollars in reserves and ending-fund balances.
“This has been a historic legislative session for many reasons, with historic budget investments at the top of the list,” Rayfield said. “Finally, Oregon is addressing the persistent budget challenges that have been holding back our state for a generation. We approved structural revenue reform to fix our chronically underfunded education system, and we took strong steps forward to stabilize our investments in education, health care, child welfare, and other critical programs.”
The legislature adjourned June 30, 2019 and will begin the 2020 session February 3, 2020.