As The Oregonian reported last week, efforts to fix our broken tax system officially broke down, forcing our state to wait even longer for the revenue changes we need to strengthen our schools and increase access to childcare, health care and higher education.
With the close of this year's legislative session just around the corner, Oregonians watch closely in hopes that we finally see real leadership from the people we elected. We urge lawmakers to recognize that in the current national political context, they simply have to do more.
When this legislative session kicked off in February, we had hopes that Oregon would be a beacon of justice. We hoped Oregon would stand up to the Trump administration's agenda of divisiveness and disinvestment in our communities, pushing back against draconian rollbacks to human and worker rights. As the session comes to a close, we are fearful that Oregon will not rise to this challenge.
Oregon could be a ray of hope in the fight to advance racial, gender and economic justice. We should not stand silent as the federal government rolls back protections for our immigrant communities and programs that help mothers and women access reproductive health care services. We have a moral obligation not only to push back, but also to push forward.
These final days of session give lawmakers an opportunity to stand strong against hate and discrimination and to make Oregon a place that advances civil rights for people of color, women, LGBTQ communities, immigrants and refugees, and all our families.
This session, the Fair Shot for All coalition is advocating for five policies that address some of the systemic inequality that too many of us face and that Salem lawmakers can take action on. Together, these proposals will:
- Provide health insurance to Oregon's 18,000 uninsured kids. These children are overwhelmingly children of color and are growing up in families that struggle to afford the basics. Health coverage is an important solution to help these kids do better in school, get a high school diploma and earn a higher income later in life.
- End the harmful police profiling by creating the right tools to track the practice, to stop it when it occurs and to offer training that can prevent it from happening in the first place.
- Protect the four in 10 Oregonians who rent their homes from being evicted without a reason and without recourse or legal protections.
- Ensure that we can all take time off from work to recover from illness, to care for a new baby or to help a seriously ill family member in need -- without losing our jobs or sacrificing much-needed income.
- Empower all Oregonians to make their own decisions about whether and when to have children, regardless of their income, citizenship status, gender identity or their type of insurance.
As the Trump administration and DC politicians push an agenda that jeopardizes our rights and divides our communities, we look to our local lawmakers in Salem to stand up for the values of the diverse, forward-looking Oregonians who elected you.
It's not too late. We urge you to do the hard work that will make our futures better.
Now is the chance for Oregon to double down on our commitment to shared prosperity and a truly equitable future. It's time for our lawmakers to do what's right.
-- Andrea Paluso is the executive director of Family Forward Action. Ramon Ramirez is the president of Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste. Both organizations are part of the Fair Shot for All coalition.