Last weekend, hundreds of Oregonians came together at budget town halls in Madras and Hermiston to share their outrage that families are facing major cuts to schools and critical services while Oregon continues to rank dead last in the country in corporate taxes. Educators, seniors, healthcare workers, students, and disability advocates sent a clear message: It’s time for corporations to pay their fair share in taxes.
Legislators must decide how to address a $1.8 billion shortfall, and if we allow Oregon to remain a top corporate welfare state the budget will be balanced on the backs of hard-working Oregon families. Class sizes and tuition costs will increase, fewer seniors and Oregonians with disabilities will receive the assistance they need, and more than 300,000 Oregonians will lose access to healthcare.
Delta Lei Bernard attended the Madras town hall to advocate on behalf of her family and all those covered under the COFA Premium Assistance Program, which provides health insurance for low-income Oregonians from the Republic of Marshall Islands, the Federated State of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau.
“No COFA premium assistance means waiting to be told I have cervical cancer because I couldn’t afford my yearly pap smear,” Delta said. “It also means my daughter, nieces, and nephews are at risk because not having access to health care results in poor growth and development.”
At the Hermiston town hall, Lis and JT Thorne worried about proposed cuts to disability services affecting their daughter’s quality of life.
“If the program is cut in any way, our daughter will suffer,” Lis said. “She needs 24-hour care, so mom stays home and cares for her. Giving breaks and cutting programs to keep large corporations happy is not the way to take care of individuals that cannot care for themselves.”
Ginger Ogle, who has taught in Pendleton, came to the Hermiston town hall to support the students she works with every day.
“My students should not have to choose between having adequate educational resources, health care, or safe spaces to live,” Ginger said. “Everyone in the state can have what they need if we make sure everyone — including corporations — shares the cost.”
We can only make corporations pay their fair share if Oregonians like Ginger, Lis, and Delta keep sharing their stories. Over the next month, hundreds of Oregonians in Ashland, Eugene, and Tillamook, Washington County, and East Multnomah County will be standing up and speaking out at town halls to protect the programs and services that families need.