Barnhart says he’s delivered for district, helped business

Audrey Caro Gomez

State Rep. Phil Barnhart, D-Eugene, is running for re-election in District 11, a position he has held since 2003.

District 11 includes central Lane and southern Linn counties – Harrisburg, Halsey, Brownsville and Sodaville and the outskirts of Lebanon and Sweet Home.

“The district is highly polarized by political philosophy now, with progressive Eugene and Lane County and much more conservative Linn County,” Barnhart said. “I hold town hall meetings periodically throughout the district, often holding five or six in a period of a couple of weeks when important issues are coming up.”

Many of his ideas come from those meetings and emails from constituents, he said.

Barnhart learned about the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon from Linn County Commissioner Roger Nyquist, who attended one of his town hall meetings in Brownsville.

“We worked collaboratively to raise the $4 million needed from the state general fund in addition to the Linn County funds to make the required match to the federal investment,” Barnhart said.

“Without those funds, the project would not have been built. I would like to believe that he would have involved me anyway, but I must believe that holding that town hall which he attended propelled us to work together on the project.”

The Veterans’ Home generated local jobs and brought money into the community, he said.

“These efforts help in the support of local businesses that sell to the facility and to those who are employed there,” Barnhart said. “The facility is now up and running. A number of deserving older and disabled vets have already moved in. I applaud the work of many community members who helped make this wonderful facility a reality.”

That is one example Barnhart gave to support his assertion that he is a leader in stimulating the economy.

In addition, the Regional Accelerator and Innovator Network, an initiative that supports innovative small business development and growth, is another program Barnhart has backed.

“So far, it has been very successful in bringing private capital to support strong growth in local jobs and local innovative companies with a strong chance to grow for years to come,” Barnhart said. “RAIN has vastly exceeded its goals for capital investment and well-paid job creation in the short time it has been in operation. It includes input from business, community leaders and the University of Oregon and Oregon State University. The universities’ involvement helps put into development the inventions and discoveries in their graduate programs and labs. I expect RAIN to be a strong driver of our economy and job growth for a long time to come.”

Barnhart has chaired the House Revenue Committee since 2007.

“In that position I have worked hard to review all the income tax credits to determine which ones help businesses and families and which ones are just give-aways,” he said. “We have also reviewed and amended many property tax programs and exemptions to help promote businesses.”

In the last term, they extended the enterprise zone rule, intended to promote business investment and job creation, to remove the cap on the number of them in rural Ore-gon, he said.

“We established a property tax forgiveness program to help clean up heavily polluted sites in our small cities so that they can be put back into productive use,” Barnhart said.

Nearly all the cities in the district have abandoned sites polluted by improperly maintained gasoline tanks or dry cleaners, he said.

“We have established several property tax and income tax programs that will allow Oregon businesses to invest in solar and wind electrical generation systems that will promote rural economic development and clean energy,” Barnhart said.

“I continue to work on faster internet connectivity which so many of our start-up businesses need to compete with the Silicon Valley. I also am exploring ways to improve rural internet connectivity which has not kept up with technological developments. We cannot grow our own or attract business to small cities and rural areas without good connectivity.

“The internet is part of the basic communication and transportation system for the future.”

Barnhart said he has helped local businesses grow by helping to streamline regulations.

“In Eugene, Springfield and many parts of Linn County, the growth in the brew pubs has been huge,” Barnhart said.

“I have encouraged many changes that only the legislature could make including this current term of the Legislature.”

He also was instrumental in changing the way the Oregon Department of Transportation bids projects, he said.

“Most jobs now go to local contractors whose workers live all over the district (and in) nearby districts.”

Supporting working families and small businesses go hand in hand for Barnhart.

“When a father or mother are working and earning a living wage, they have dollars to spend on rent or the mortgage, food, clothing, child care, a night out occasionally and the other things that successful families spend their money on,” Barnhart said. “We know that earned wages turn over two or three times in the local economy and are key to a successful business environment.”

Most living wage dollars are spent immediately in the local economy including at small businesses, he said.


From the time he was on the Education Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee in 2007 to the present time, Barnhart has been trying to find money for K-12 education as well as community colleges and the state’s public universities, he said.

“One important program is (career and technical education), an absolutely necessary one for our economy and for many of our students to stay in school and do well,” Barnhart said. “Our schools cut most of the CTE programs in the ’90s after Measure 5 passed. I have supported restoring them and also supported the addition of programs that allow high school students to participate in community college and business supported CTE programs to help meet graduation requirements and move them seamlessly into higher education.”

Measure 97

Barnhart supports Measure 97 because he says it will allow funding for technical education, art and physical education in addition to small class sizes and “good counseling.”

“M97 will provide support for healthier life styles and health care that will improve Oregon’s health immediately and lower costs over the long term,” Barnhart said.

Measure 97 is not perfect, he said, but most of the cost will be paid by large out-of-state corporations, such as Comcast, Wells Fargo and Monsanto.

“Many of these businesses use accounting tricks to avoid paying their income taxes,” Barnhart said. “M97 simplifies the tax structure for taxes on the big corporations with more than $25 Million in Oregon sales, simplifications that are harder to trick, and will force them to pay their fair share for early childhood and K-12 education, health, and senior services, the areas that the Measure specifies are to be funded.”