Two Views • Oregon's tax-altering Measures 66 and 67 stir passions of both supporters, opponents
In preparing for my youngest son to go to college in the fall of 2007, I braced myself for empty-nest syndrome, the sudden end of directly caring for my children.
However, around the same time, my father - a proud, 85-year-old World War II veteran and postal service retiree - suffered a brain hemorrhage that left him partially disabled. Thankfully, he recovered, but he now requires a little assistance to stay in his own home. So I serve as one of his caregivers.
At age 54, I joined the nearly 25 percent of American adults who comprise the 'Sandwich Generation' - helping care for or support our children while also taking care of our aging parents.
I found that I'm not alone. As an AARP member and Oregon PTA volunteer, this is a situation I see and hear about more and more. It serves as one more reason to support Measures 66 and 67 on the ballot this January.
This recession has put an economic squeeze on families and critical state services that we all rely on. I'm fortunate to be able to help take care of my father. But I know many people who aren't so lucky, and count on the state's in-home and community-based care system in order to make sure their parents are able to live with independence and dignity. And if my situation changed, I'd want to make sure that these services are there for my dad.
That's why voting yes on Measures 66 and 67 is so important. If we lose the funding that these measures provide, thousands of seniors and people with disabilities will be left without the care they need and deserve.
At the other end of the age spectrum, I know that voting yes on these measures will also help prevent even further increases in tuition at Oregon's community colleges and universities. My son's tuition and fees went up 19 percent just last year. Again, we've been able to get by. But too many others can't say the same. Now more than ever, we need to keep the opportunities for higher learning open to our young people and protect middle-class families who can't afford to take on even more of the burden.
These measures are designed to help struggling families, like all those in the Sandwich Generation, and put Oregon on the path to economic recovery. They will help ensure that our children's schools and colleges can do the job we expect and need of them. They will help preserve in-home and community-care options critical to our seniors and people with disabilities who have earned the right to age with dignity. They will help keep our communities safe and our court system functional.
I'm urging Oregonians to vote yes on Measures 66 and 67 because they define how we live, who we are as a people and how we grow our economy and collective future. They will keep the burden from being shifted to those who can least afford it: students, seniors and middle-class families. These measures ask large corporations and the wealthiest households to pay a little bit more to preserve essential services. Frankly, I think it's wrong and unjust to even think about further cuts to our schools and senior services when large corporations are paying just $10 a year in corporate taxes. The Oregon way demands that we do better.
Anita Olsen is a member of AARP Oregon and former president of the Oregon PTA. She lives in Southeast Portland.