Posted by December 6, 2016
Governor Kate Brown released her recommended budget last week, which includes a combination of cuts and revenue increases aimed at reducing the impact of a $1.7 billion revenue shortfall. These recommendations are the start of a long process that will have huge consequences for SEIU members and our families, as well as our friends, neighbors and, indeed, every Oregonian.
Governor Brown should be applauded for her efforts to protect the most critical parts of the budget, such as healthcare funding and self-sufficiency programs. The Governor acknowledges that her proposal also includes millions of dollars in painful cuts to critical programs that will directly impact SEIU members.
- We cannot cut our way to prosperity, and we should not accept the status quo – let alone cuts – when large corporations are not paying their fair share.
Poor schools, expensive or inadequate healthcare, crumbling services for seniors, and rising rents demand bold new solutions. We cannot cut our way to prosperity, and we should not accept the status quo – let alone cuts – when large corporations are not paying their fair share.
Let’s take a closer look at the recommended budget released this week.
Governor Brown is proposing several new revenue streams, including a provider tax on the medical and insurance industries, in order to protect funding for the Oregon Health Plan, Employment Related Day Care and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – all priorities that should be protected. The Governor also recommends additional funding for child welfare, an area where Oregon must do better.
SEIU member Twyla Pew works in the Cottage Grove child welfare office. “I am thrilled to see more resources coming,” she said. “We are currently failing some of the most vulnerable children in Oregon. We desperately need more foster homes and more residential beds for children with behavioral problems. Every child deserves a chance at a good life, and we can do that if we make it a priority.”
In other areas, the Governor’s recommendations will hurt SEIU members directly and impact the people who rely on them.
Either she loses her independence and quality of life, or I lose part of my livelihood. This is a horrible decision for us to make.
Some homecare workers in Oregon could see their hours cut, which would put seniors and people with disabilities at risk. Rebecca Sandoval, a live-in care provider in Medford, is worried that cutting the live-in care program will put consumers at risk.
“My consumer requires 24-hour care,” Rebecca said. “If the live-in program is cut, I will either have to work for free or the state will put my consumer in a home. Either she loses her independence and quality of life, or I lose part of my livelihood. This is a horrible decision for us to make.”
The recommended budget also includes deep cuts to Oregon Project Independence, a highly valued service that helps seniors and people with disabilities pay for in-home care.
In higher education, deep cuts could mean layoffs and reduced services for staff, and higher costs for students. Rob Fullmer is an SEIU 503 member at Portland State University. “While it’s encouraging that the governor’s budget doesn’t propose outright cuts to higher education, with increased fixed costs students are looking at likely double digit tuition hikes at all our public universities.”
The proposal would also close the North Coast Youth Correctional Facility and the Junction City State Hospital.
As the legislature reviews the Governor’s recommended budget, we must make our voices heard. Every cut is a choice — a decision to balance the budget on the backs of Oregon’s working families instead of asking large corporations to pay their fair share.
“That students could be asked to pay even more when our state is 50th in effective corporate taxes is unacceptable,” said Rob Fullmer. “Our elected leaders must fix the revenue problem with an equitable tax system that meets Oregon’s needs.”
Some highlights of the budget:
- No cuts to families on OHP
- Funding of Cover all Kids
- Funding for case load growth for APD/IDD
- No cuts to families on ERDC
- Child welfare investments
- $100 million bargaining pot for state workers and $10 million bargaining pot for care providers and a maintenance of current rates for homecare workers
- Funding for student access grants and Oregon promise for higher education.Areas concerning to us:
- OYA closure of Warrenton Facility
- OSH closure of Junction City Hospital.
- Reduction in Oregon Project Independence from $20M to $5M, which will cause a lot of people to lose services and homecare workers to lose consumers
- Ending of the 24/7 (live-in) homecare program. The consumers will be served by the hourly program.
- Cuts to DAS. It is unclear in the budget if there are job losses with the cuts.
- Higher Ed. The budget is about $100 million short of CSL. The current budget could cause lay-offs.
- Public Health. We need more details here as well, but the budget unlikely maintains current service level.