Encourage your legislators to support children in Oregon’s budget
The Oregon Legislature is gearing up for another Special Session to be held in the forthcoming weeks which will focus on balancing the 2019-2021 budget. This is a critical time in our state when it is important to look at the holistic needs of children. We recognize that communities across our state are differently situated due to a wide range of systemic and societal factors, including variances in education, housing, language, racism, and intergenerational trauma.
We invite you to join us in encouraging legislators to apply the following framework to budgeting decisions in order to enhance outcomes for all children through targeting supports to those who are most marginalized:
Center Racial Equity in all Budget Decisions
Racial equity benefits all Oregonians. By prioritizing and centering the voices and lived experiences of the most marginalized communities, we move towards a stronger future where all Oregonians are afforded the opportunity to live with dignity and begin to correct historic injustices. It is the duty of the state to ensure an equitable recovery that leaves no community behind.
Avoid Across-The-Board Funding Cuts
Across the board funding cuts will unevenly affect marginalized communities and must be avoided. This is the time to listen to our most vulnerable populations to understand and ensure that they are receiving the resources and support they need during these uncertain times.
Apply federal dollars
We hope to see a strong federal package soon and urge our legislators to continue to maximize federal dollars to support departments, programs, and initiatives identified by communities to have the greatest impact on an equitable recovery.
Use reserves strategically
A long-term approach is required to support strategic, informed decisions that will not result in deep program cuts in the following biennium budget. We appreciate the approach of the Ways and Means Co-Chairs’ budget framework to use the Education Stability Fund and limit the ending fund balance, and to hold back on the Rainy Day Fund until we see future revenue forecasts.
Improve the public process
Acknowledging the importance of a racial equity lens also means acknowledging the systemic barriers marginalized communities face when advocating for their own interests. Communities must be outfitted with the data and tools needed to advocate for themselves, and the legislative process needs to be more transparent and provide information in a timely manner.
The impact of COVID-19 has highlighted existing disparities across health, education, and the economy. These disparities are evidence that the State has much more work to do to target our investments. We must ensure an even playing field for children to reach their full potential so that children and their families have access to the resources that they need to thrive in every community.
We know that communities have been doing work to support an equitable future for our children for a long time with inadequate resources. We must focus on budget decisions that will shift us from what we have done in the past towards making the investments needed for our collective future.
Now is the time to reimagine the world we want to live in and make it real with each decision we make. Contact your legislators and start today.