By Phyllis Wills of Hillsboro, Oregon. Phyllis is a homecare worker and a member of SEIU Local 503.
I’m overjoyed that Democrats in the Oregon House—with a couple of key Republicans—voted to pass two bills that begin to restore some fairness to Oregon’s tax system and save vital services by raising revenue from those who can afford it. But we’re only halfway there—the Oregon Senate is under tremendous pressure from big business interests to defeat these critical bills.
When I talk about revenue, I’m not just talking about numbers; I’m talking about people whose lives, dignity, independence, and jobs depend on core services the state provides—people like me, and people like Dorothy, whom I’ve taken care of for seven years.
Dorothy is 78 and has lived in her own home for 21 years. But after she underwent major heart surgery several years ago, many of the daily tasks that most of us take for granted became impossible for her. Simple chores like cooking, cleaning and shopping for groceries were no longer possible for Dorothy to do on her own.
Thanks to in-home care, thousands of seniors like Dorothy receive quality care and can live with dignity and respect.
Unfortunately, under a current proposal in front of legislators, home care and hours may be cut by nearly 40 percent. That will mean less care for people like Dorothy, and it will mean less pay—or layoffs—for care providers like me.
Making matters worse, the state is now proposing to deny homecare workers our basic healthcare insurance. We don’t do this job for the money, but our wages of $10 per hour will make it impossible for any of us to buy our own private insurance. Wouldn’t it be terrible if at the same time state leaders expand healthcare for some Oregonians, they also cut healthcare to thousands of low-income workers like me?
This crisis is so large that no one will escape the pain, but it’s unfair and irresponsible to balance the budget on the backs of thousands of people like Dorothy and I. That’s why it’s so vital that our Oregon State Senators pass House Bills 3405 and 2649, which will begin to save funding for homecare by requiring that those who are still thriving in this economy pay their fair share. Dorothy and I—and thousands of people just like us—are depending on lawmakers to take the bold steps that Oregon needs.
The Oregon Senate is scheduled to vote on these bills on Wednesday (June 10) afternoon. Your Senator needs to hear from you about how important it is that we save funding for these vital services. Please take a moment right now to call your Senator and urge a yes vote on HB 3405 and 2649. The phone number is 800-711-4539.
Dorothy and I feel strongly about this (as you can see)—so strongly, in fact, that we participated in an advertisement, which you can hear right here: