We Cannot Balance the Budget on the Backs of Working Families

Published December 7, 2016 at seiu503.org

I recently attended the 14th annual Oregon Leadership Summit, at which some people of Oregon’s business community discussed the state budget. The message I heard was loud and clear: Oregon should balance its budget on the backs of working families by reducing the retirement benefits of public employees, by disinvesting in the workforce that educates and provides services to Oregonians, and by accepting cuts to services and communities in need.

I cannot accept that—not when Oregon has the lowest corporate taxes in the nation, a fact that even the business community acknowledged at their event. Several leaders presented a different view. Governor Brown challenged the business people.

“We cannot cut our way to prosperity,” she said, adding that she hoped every person in the room would join her in a conversation about raising new revenue. “If the only solution [to our budget deficit] is to cut teachers’ salaries and renege on promises to retirees,” Brown said, “this conversation will not go very far.”

House Speaker Kotek and Senator Devlin each correctly noted that promised retirement benefits are not the significant cost driver that people often portray them as.

I believe in our union’s vision for a prosperous, better Oregon—one with a great education system, health care for all, and retirement security for all working people. I believe we can achieve this vision through investments in schools, health care, and programs that help families work and thrive.

We cannot be 50th in the nation in corporate taxes. We must make large and out-of-state corporations pay their fair share so that our state can move past its problems and build towards the Oregon we want. SEIU members—you and I—need to tell our legislators this. If you haven’t already done so, please commit to standing with us and fighting for a better Oregon.

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SEIU Local 085