Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons
The well-being of our communities is tied to how we invest and support them. Our families deserve the chance to live healthy, successful lives, yet Oregon has faced 25 years of disinvestment in our public schools, health and human services that have disproportionately affected communities of color. As the demographics of our state rapidly change, with communities of color making up more than 1 in 4 Oregonians, we have a big opportunity to support our communities’ most basic needs of health and education by voting Yes on Measure 97.
When I was a senior in high school, Oregon voters adopted Measure 5, the property tax limitation ballot measure that has led to a unprecedented cuts and volatility in education across the state. I remember playing sports and music in public schools, and my parents paying a few hundred dollars each year so I could participate in 1990. Just a few years later, friends I played with were being required to pay thousands of dollars as massive cuts in schools started taking place.
I benefited from quality schools and affordable education, yet now too many students are being left behind. I’ve listened to our high school senior this year lament the challenges of student loan debt as he considers college, and we’ve continually fundraised to support basic elementary school programs for our younger daughters. Today, we’re all paying the price for these disinvestments as Oregon now has some of the largest class sizes, shortest school years, and lowest graduation rates in the country that threaten our economic future.
We see this same pattern in health and human services, cutting services to the most vulnerable, and struggling as a state to address historic inequities particularly in communities of color. We see this through our community organizing in APANO, where our members and their families increasingly fight for quality, affordable and culturally competent services. We’re doing this in an era of record corporate profits, increasing wage inequality and gender pay gaps, and the high costs of low wage work.
As a family in Oregon, we’ve paid our fair share in taxes to support schools, health care, and other public services that support our neighbors and community. While our contributions and those of other individual taxpayers continue to increase, corporations continue to get a huge tax break in Oregon. Corporate taxes have decreased by over 60% since the 1970’s from 18.5% to 6.7% today, and are projected to pay less than 5% by the mid 2020s. We pay our fair share – it’s time for corporations to start doing the same. Let’s work together to end this legacy of disinvestment in our communities, and ensure all Oregonians receive high class education, healthcare, and services by saying Yes on Measure 97.
Join APANO’s #TEAM200! Give 3 hours of your time and be part of our efforts to reach Oregon voters everyday for 12 days leading up to Election Day. We can’t do it without you