Sprenger aiming at removing state obstacles to growth

Running for re-election to state House District 17, Sherrie Sprenger says her priorities are simple €” jobs and the economy.

Sprenger, 44, faces Bruce Cuff in the May 18 Republican primary. She was appointed to the position in 2008 to succeed Fred Girod, who was appointed to fill a Senate vacancy. She was then elected in fall 2008.

According to state economists, “we are beginning to move out of this recession,” Sprenger said. She added that “we are in a recovery, but this will be a jobless recovery.”

That means the legislature and state government need to do no more harm to existing jobs and do what they can to facilitate €“ not create because government doesn’t create jobs €“ the process for new jobs, Sprenger said.

“I was staunchly opposed to income taxes (Measures 66 and 67 passed in January).”

She has opposed increases in regulation, although the legislature managed to impose new regulations last year, she said. “We have to do everything possible to stimulate our local economy.”

To that end, she introduced a biomass bill during this year’s emergency session to encourage the use of slash piles in generating electricity, Sprenger said.

She said she is concerned about the infrastructure of the timber industry, which is losing workforce and struggling to maintain equipment.

“We have to prepare ourselves and this industry to survive right now so as we do climb out of this recession, they are also able to climb out of this recession.”

Timber is a viable resource that should be used, she said. Sprenger was chief co-sponsor of a resolution seeking revisions to the Western Oregon Plan to encourage sustainable harvest on Bureau of Land Management forests.

While protecting the forests is important, she said, “We also need to use our resources.”

The biomass bill, which failed to make it out of committee in the last session, would offer a $10-per-green-ton tax credit for transporting biomass materials from forests to co-generation plants, she said. Right now, the slash is typically burned on site.

“Burning it in the woods is carbon emission,” Sprenger said. “Processing it reduces carbon emissions.”

She plans to reintroduce the bill in the 2011 session and to continue educating legislators about the idea of using the biomass for power generation. She has bipartisan support for the idea and thinks it can be passed.

Sprenger said last year, instead of reducing costs imposed by the state government on timber industry firms, the legislature increased registration and licensing fees, increasing the costs of transportation.

“Some in the legislature made it more difficult for these folks. I’m trying to make it easier for these folks.”

She said Oregon needs to refocus how it should be addressing its economic problems.

“This is a state that’s primarily dependent on income tax revenue, so we need people working,” Sprenger said. To fund services the public wants from its government, it needs people working.

Talk of a shortfall in the state budget is looking at the problem the wrong way, she said. The term “shortfall” is based on the items on which the legislature wants to spend money.

“We are in a recession,” she said. Fiscally conservative people say, “What can we do?” instead of “What do we want?”

Sprenger also plans to continue actively advocating for parents’ rights to choose where and how their children are educated during a time where the legislature has imposed further restrictions, “so all kids have an opportunity to receive an education that works for them.”

She said private, public, charter school or home school are all good options depending on the student, she said, and she guarantees that not all of the options would work for her son.

Sprenger also wants to improve the use of other natural resources in Oregon, its wildlife and fish, and hunter safety for youths.

She is assistant minority whip in the House, she said. She helps newer legislators figure out how to move forward with a conservative, common sense agenda.

“I just want to thank the people for the support I’ve received for the last two years and value the trust they’ve placed in me to take their agenda to Salem,” Sprenger said. “I will continue to advocate for conservative, common sense ideas.”

Sprenger is married to Kyle Sprenger. They have one son, Austin. She served as a deputy sheriff with Benton and Grant counties for about eight years.

Her small business in radio communications has become so small, she doesn’t have to show up for work, she said, so she is enjoying every opportunity to raise her family, which is her most important job.