By JOHN KITZHABER

We have a common set of challenges that in one way or another affect all of us – challenges that can only be met if we meet them together. How we confront and overcome these challenges will define Oregon for many years to come.

As the only candidate in the race with direct experience creating jobs and working with the private sector to grow existing Oregon businesses and attracting new investment to the state, I know what it takes – and I have a plan – to put Oregon back to work. During my time as governor, wages rose by 49 percent and state economic productivity increase by 48 percent.

Over the past several months, I have traveled around the state, meeting with business and community leaders, refining a plan for getting our economy back on track. I will:

• Invest in Training.  Immediately put people back to work in high-demand jobs through training programs in our community colleges.

• Upgrade our Schools.  Create immediate, skilled jobs to upgrade schools across the state, putting people back to work and improving the learning environment.  Best yet, these upgrades can pay for themselves through energy cost savings.

• Use Oregon’s Money for Oregon, Not Wall Street.  Nearly all of Oregon’s investment funds are invested out of state by out of state money managers.  Instead, we should use in-state managers and support our community banks, allowing them to start lending again to Oregon’s small businesses.

• Strengthen our Oregon Networks.  Ensure that our public dollars are purchasing Oregon-produced goods and services through procurement standards.

• Focus on our own small- and medium-sized businesses.  These businesses often need specialized services and assistance with access to new markets and capital to grow.  Working with private networks and leveraging our own capital, we can create help these businesses thrive.

My jobs plan goes hand-in-hand with work that must be done to put Oregon’s fiscal house in order. As governor, I will bring our resources and expenditures back into balance in a way that provides a solid foundation from which to rebuild.

We need view our next budget not in terms of how we “cut” $2 billion but rather how we take the revenue we have and invest it in what matters most. By doing this, I will bring an end to the short-term thinking and budgeting that causes Oregon to stagger from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis – and deliver a new beginning by moving to a ten-year budget framework.

And over the long term, we must reinvest in our education system, from the youngest children to our post-secondary institutions, and drive down fixed costs such as energy and healthcare.

My campaign has been organized around offering these real solutions, and we need them now more than ever. Our problems certainly will not be solved through slogans or 30-second television commercials.

As an Oregonian, a doctor, a legislator and a governor, I have spent my life fighting for Oregon and for Oregonians. The challenges we face today require experience, leadership, the determination to never settle for the status quo, and an unbreakable commitment to put Oregon families first. That is exactly what I bring to this race – and will do as your governor.

John Kitzhaber served as Oregon’s governor from 1994 to 2002; he is the Democratic nominee for governor in November’s election.