We’re finishing up two weeks of public hearings around the state on the proposed budget for 2013-15. As has been my experience over the past four years, the “road show” for the budget committee leaves me inspired by what is being done in communities all over the state, but also deeply concerned on how deep the needs are for Oregonians at present.
This recession has hit us very hard, and the speed of the recovery is glacial in comparison to what Oregonians are up against. We have so many of the right tools in place. We have remarkable teachers in schools at all levels in every region of the state. We have an in-home health care program that is a national model. We have a public safety system with programs we know work, such as drug courts and the programs focused on youth offenders. Again, it’s inspiring to see what is being done with less than adequate resources, but incredibly frustrating to know how much more could be done — and needs to be done — if we were to be able to fund at a level anywhere close to where we were before the Wall Street crash.
Oregonians are resilient, but the level of poverty and need in our state is unacceptable. I believe we’re going to end up with a budget that holds the line in many ways. But we have a long way to go to be where we need to be for our families and communities to thrive.