Oregon Budget Madness: There are no Cinderella stories here.

There were few upsets in the opening round of Oregon Budget Madness. Dead-last corporate taxes, the top-seed, routed Oregon universities, an underdog with plenty of fight but not enough muscle. Job training for seniors, a worthy cause, lost out to the overwhelming need facing K-12 schools. Seniors took an early exit. Across the board, choices were made, and there were winners and losers.

Unlike the basketball games, these losses are really hard to overcome.

But the forced winners and losers games continue — and our Budget Madness is now down to the Elite Eight, where the odds remain stacked against family programs and services, no matter how essential. That’s because Oregon’s dead-last corporate taxes have created a climate in which just funding schools, health care, and family services at an adequate level is all but impossible. Making big investments or funding new services? A total half-court heave.

The services we are talking about are a matter of life or death for hundreds of thousands of families. Our students graduate at the third-lowest rate in the country, the number of seniors living in poverty has increased 60 percent over the last decade, and Oregon ranks among the worst states in the country for those with mental health issues.

And this year, the outlook is even bleaker. Without new revenue, there will be deeper cuts to the services Oregon families need: 350,000 Oregonians will lose their healthcare, our class sizes will balloon, and mental health and addiction treatment will be slashed even further. Make no mistake — keeping our corporate taxes the lowest in the nation means painful cuts that Oregon families can ill afford.

Reminder: As you’re filling out your bracket, pick the team that’s most likely to win, not necessarily the one you want to win. Oregon Budget Madness is meant to replicate the odds family services face in the Legislature.

This round …

Kicking 350,000 people off the Oregon Health Plan VS. Reducing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Employment-Related Day Care

The matchup: In the roundabout world of Budget Madness, the winner of this matchup is really the loser. Will the Legislature kick 350,000 people off the Oregon Health Plan? Or reduce assistance for needy families and access to Employment-Related Daycare? This is the kind of competition no one wants, but happens every year. It’s like our Budget Madness has split a team that used to play together in two — forcing them to compete for something they should win together.

All of Oregon wins when we invest in services like these, all of us lose when we have to choose between child care and health care. It’s the opposite of a must-see match-up: no one wants to watch this matchup, and no one wants to compete.

Predicted winner: Cuts to ERDC and TANF

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