2016 is our chance to make a better Oregon for all of us — and that starts by coming together and standing up for Oregonians.
This could be the year when Oregonians win big. If we take all the right steps and continue to stand up for everyday Oregonians, we can make Oregon a better place to live for all of us.
You might be asking yourself, Didn’t we already win big in 2015? And to that we say, yes, 2015 was a victorious year! Thanks to the hard work of a diverse coalition, we made big strides for everyday Oregonians:
- With the passage of the Oregon Retirement Security Bill, every worker in Oregon will now be able to plan for a secure retirement after a lifetime of work.
- Qualified job applicants with prior convictions or arrests will now be given a second chance at a fair shot, as the “box” (asking about prior convictions) has been banned from job applications.
- Oregon is changing the culture of policing, thanks to the banning of profiling of law enforcement, making neighborhoods safer and communities stronger.
- Perhaps most notable, hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers now have paid sick leave, a basic workplace protection.
There’s no denying that these are huge victories — but too many Oregonians are still getting left behind:
Right now, too many Oregon seniors are living in poverty. In fact, nearly two-thirds of retirees in Oregon have zero income from retirement funds — and that means more seniors are relying on safety net programs, like SNAP, in order to get by.
Health care is becoming more and more out of reach. A recent report has revealed that nearly 400,000 Oregonians — or about 1 in 10 — are currently uninsured. And for those who are on the Oregon Health Plan, the need for more investment is abundantly clear: 160,000 people aren’t receiving the mental health services they need, and another 87,000 aren’t getting the substance-abuse services that would help steer them toward more opportunities.
Things aren’t looking bright for the next generation of Oregonians either. Due to budget shortfalls, we’ve had to lay off more than 3,000 teachers in the last decade, which has led to Oregon’s schools having the third largest class sizes in the nation — and when you combine large class sizes with one of the shortest school years, you know we’re not giving our kids the education they need and deserve.
The good news is that we have a real opportunity to address these needs and make a significant impact. A Better Oregon, the campaign to make large and out-of-state corporations pay their fair share in taxes, is working its way toward the November ballot. If we all work together and commit to investing in our communities, we’ll have more funding for our schools, our seniors and our health care system. If we win, we’ll be able to make game-changing investments — and that means a truly better Oregon for all of us.