Students demand end of corporate welfare to prevent cuts to services

Katrina Neville should have graduated from Southern Oregon University and started her career as a social worker by now. But the high cost of college tuition has delayed her dream.

“The cost of tuition has kept me in college longer than I should be. If it wasn’t for the terms I’ve had to take off because of rising costs, I would be giving back to the community by now as a social worker,” Katrina said. “When I graduate, I will have $32,000 in debt. If Oregon did not have the lowest corporate tax rate in the nation, students and so many other individuals would not have to suffer.”

Katrina and hundreds of other Oregonians — educators, nurses, parents, students, healthcare professionals, and advocates — packed budget town halls in Ashland and Eugene over the weekend to make clear that they will not accept cuts to critical services while Oregon remains a top corporate welfare state. Because of our dead last corporate taxes, Oregon is facing a $1.8 billion budget deficit that would lead to painful cuts: Oregon’s K-12 class sizes and tuition costs could again increase, and 350,000 Oregonians are at risk of losing their their health care.

Karen Sachitano, a psychiatric RN, attended the Ashland budget town hall because of serious concerns over how those living with mental illness will be affected.

“Cutting funding to Jackson County Mental Health will be devastating to clients,” Karen said. “This vulnerable population is dependent on their current level of care and may be forced to accept mental health services from ill-prepared clinics that will not offer safe care.”

In Eugene, University of Oregon freshman Imani Dorsey shared Katrina’s concerns about the rising costs of a college education.

“The lack of funding for higher education has imposed a huge financial burden on my family. I am lucky, my parents would sacrifice their financial security for my siblings and I, but they shouldn’t have to,” she said.

Imani recently started working to offset tuition increases, “I’m afraid of being priced out,” she said. “Even though I came in with 44 credits, which knocked off a year, working will cause me to prolong my path to graduation.”

If more Oregonians like Katrina, Karen, and Imani share their stories, we can end corporate welfare in our state. This week, hundreds of Oregonians will continue sharing their stories at Tillamook and East Multnomah County town halls to stop cuts from being made to our schools and health services. RSVP now to share your story!

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