A Top 10 List of Questions for 2011

With apologies to David Letterman, here is a "Top 10 List of Political Questions for 2011" – and beyond.

1. Will Republicans and Democrats be able to co-exist – or even produce middle-ground compromise – in a House evenly-split with 30 Republicans and 30 Democrats?

2. Will Senate Democrats, with a thin 16-14 margin of control, be able to reckon with the split House as it processes legislation?

3. Will the new governor and legislators be able to reconcile state health care policy with national health care policy in a way that avoids deadline confusion for the public?

4. Will the new governor and legislators be able to find ways to balance the 2011-13 budget without doing irreparable harm to K-12 education, higher education, social policy and public safety programs?

5. Will state employees strike in the new year as they did the last time Governor-Elect Kitzhaber was governor and presided over salary and benefit negotiations in 1995?

6. And, speaking of unions, will they be able to retain their position as the strongest political force in Oregon politics with split control in the legislature?

7. How will the voter-endorsed move to annual sessions affect Oregonians' faith in the legislative process?

8. How will the new governor and legislators deal with the reality of the "two Oregons" – the long-standing fact that urban Oregon is different from rural Oregon? 

9. Who will be setting themselves up for runs at higher – or at least different – public offices in the next year or so:  Attorney General John Kroger; House Co-Speaker Bruce Hanna; House Co-Speaker Arnie Roblan; Rep. Mary Nolan; Rep. Dave Hunt; Sen. Peter Courtney; Rep. Tobias Read, etc.?

10. When will the stubborn recession end in Oregon?

Perhaps this list of Top 10 questions will prompt you to think about the political/public policy questions you would ask in 2011, which promises to be a very difficult period as Oregon tries to emerge from the recession.

********

In the credit-where-credit-is-due department, the idea for coming up with this list emerged as we read Gannett National Writer Chuck Raasch's list of his national top political questions for the new year.