I’m Jonathan Chenjeri and I’m running for House District 56.

I want to write today on why rural areas need the kind of spending in the Build Back Better and Infrastructure bills. While the price tag is significant, focus here overlooks how the money goes directly to the middle-class and working people, newborns, youth and families.

Spending can be a problem without the demand behind it (not mentioning continued corporate subsidies and increased defense spending), though these are long sought after investments in our communities. Our hometowns are the best places for public investment that enables long-term development.

Apart from what the bill does not do, like increase the minimum wage or support union growth (like the PRO Act), it does help build the foundations for a healthier and more productive workforce. The BBA cracks down on corporate tax loopholes, invests in universal childcare, pre-k, public transit and broadband; lifts up disabled workers, expands Medicare, incentivizes clean vehicles, and creates a Civilian Climate Corps to hire young people to restore our natural resources.

Too often, rural investment has meant incentivizing business from the outside-in through deregulation that doesn’t ultimately result in economic development. A narrow definition of “growth” has led to an underinvestment in rural areas. BBA funds can be locally directed and planned to invest in people, resources and the communities that then generate wealth (making the income more valuable), which can lead to greater supply chains — building from the inside-out.

Our campaign is about innovative thinking and making a New Deal for Rural Oregon. We need leadership in Salem to better advocate for funding in rural areas, not distract with cultural animus. A 21st-century mindset is how we will approach legislation when we get to Salem, please join this effort today for a brighter future.

Jonathan Chenjeri

Klamath Falls