SEIU 503 Executive Director Melissa Unger made the following statement in response to the Co-Chairs’ Budget Framework and Governor Kate Brown’s 10-Point Economic Recovery Plan:
This week we have seen the Governor release an economic recovery plan and also the co-chairs release their budget framework. As the Legislature and Governor consider funding from the Congress, we are calling on them to think boldly.
We appreciate the prudent use of State resources and the prioritization of essential workers in the budget framework. However, we are concerned about their plan to withhold millions of federal dollars in a rainy day fund.
The arrival of more than $6 billion in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan is a tremendous opportunity to jumpstart an Oregon recovery. We know from the last recession that austerity measures make recoveries longer and more painful. We don’t need to repeat the mistakes of the past. Instead, legislators should choose to support Oregonians. The people of this state deserve the full commitment of their lawmakers during a time of unprecedented hardship.
Here are a few things lawmakers can do now to improve the lives of their constituents:
Essential worker pay: This proposal would give $1,000 – $2,000 checks to workers who masked up, did their jobs, and kept our state running through the pandemic.
Invest in Black, indigenous, and other communities of color: BIPOC communities have been disproportionately impacted by the crises of 2020, and through targeted investments lawmakers have the opportunity to make our recovery more equitable.
Raise caregiver wages: With more than half of the COVID deaths in Oregon occuring in congregate care facilities, it’s clear that we have to do a better job caring for seniors and people with disabilities. Better pay is the key to reducing turnover and improving the quality of care we provide in Oregon.
Disaster proof our essential public services: Invest in systems upgrades at State agencies, wildfire abatement strategies, staff at Oregon Health Authority and DHS – these are some of the many ways lawmakers can better prepare us for the next crisis by improving our essential public services.
Support small businesses: Work with business groups to support small businesses who have been impacted by the public health response to COVID-19.
Rural broadband: High-speed internet access is a must for rural communities to fully participate in business, public services and community activities.