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New year brings new session, new opportunities

In 2013, I was honored with the responsibility of representing Hillsboro in my first session as a state representative. As a new face in the halls of the Capitol, the weeks flew by as we fought to get Oregonians back to work, increase access to high quality education and make our government better serve all Oregonians.

Because of the hard work of legislators on both sides of the aisle, we were able to achieve some great things for Oregon. One of my proudest moments was voting to boost funding for Oregon’s K-12 schools by $1 billion. After years of painful budget cuts and ballooning class sizes, passing the largest K-12 budget in Oregon’s history was a huge victory — but we still have more work to do in Washington County.

That’s why I joined other leaders in our community to fight for an additional $10 million for our local schools, and I will continue to stand up for our schools and our students every chance I get.

In the 2014 legislative session, I’m going to introduce a bill that would create new opportunities for students from low-income and first-generation communities to go to college. The “Aspirations to College Bill” would create a competitive grant for community colleges throughout the state, to help them provide classes and programs that would support these students throughout their continued education.

With skyrocketing tuition costs across the country, we need to do everything we can to make higher education more affordable and accessible for all Oregonians. This pilot program — modeled after Portland Community College’s “Future Connect” — would be a step in the right direction.

I’ll also be working to advance a public/private partnership initiative that will enable unemployed engineers and other professionals to become re-trained and re-employed in the bio-science field and advanced manufacturing industries. Oregon’s economy is steadily improving, but it’s not growing fast enough — especially for the middle class and low-income families that must work harder and longer just to keep up. I’ll keep seeking creative ways to get more Oregonians back to work and to make sure the economic recovery expands opportunities for all Oregonians.

I move into this new year with a continued commitment to our community, and am looking forward to this next legislative session as an opportunity to build a brighter, stronger future for Oregon. My office, and our government, is at its best when we hear from you. I want to know your priorities for 2014, and I want to hear about the issues you deal with every day.

Please get in contact with me via email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by stopping by my office in Salem (900 Court St. N.E., H-484, Salem).

By working together, we can build a more prosperous future for all Oregonians.

Joe Gallegos, a former University of Portland sociology professor, serves House District 30. He lives in Hillsboro.



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