The YWCA’s programs put our mission into action: to eliminate racism; empower women; and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. As a voice of those too often marginalized in our communities, we have a moral imperative to speak up about public policies and laws that will directly influence achievement of our mission.  This year’s ballot has two initiatives and one bond measure that, if passed, will directly and nearly immediately do just that. That is why the YWCA has endorsed these measures.

The following is not intended as a thorough discussion of the issues. But speaking for the YWCA’s mission and the thousands who come to us for help each year, this is our brief take on these measures.

* As a charitable organization, the YWCA cannot take a position on candidates or partisan politics

Endorsement of Measure 97

With jaw-dropping high school dropout rates, increasing poverty among the blossoming elder population and pressure on general funds placed by PERS, it is clear that existing revenue sources are insufficient to support Oregon’s most vulnerable. Without additional revenue, Oregon’s 2017-2019 budget will require a REDUCTION in general funds of 8%. For decades Oregon legislators have been asked to remedy the tax structure that relies too heavily upon property and income tax and leaves too many Oregonians without. They have repeatedly failed to do so. That leaves only the initiative referendum process – the voters – to create the revenue necessary to meet the growing needs of our most vulnerable Oregonians and continue to meet is obligations under generous PERS contracts signed decades ago. Those most likely to pay the consequences of inadequate funding? People of color. Girls and women. Those with disabilities. Elders. Babies and children. Without a more balanced, lucrative tax structure, Oregon will continue to see the results of inadequate early childhood, education, healthcare and elder support:  increasing homelessness, addiction, poverty and gaping holes in Oregon’s social safety net.

Supports systems that reduce racism, empower women and improve equity, justice and dignity for all.

Endorsement of Measure 98

This measure would require state funding of $800 per student to school districts to establish or expand high school programs providing career-technical education, college-level courses, and dropout prevention strategies. Oregon had the second lowest public school graduation rate, 68.7 percent, in the nation in 2013. Youth of color, limited English children, children with disabilities and low income students do even worse. Vocational, technical and college level courses as well as student supports have been reduced or eliminated entirely due to Education budget cuts. It should be no surprise that our dropout rate has increased in direct proportion to these reductions.

Increased supports for youth, including pathways to livable wage jobs and college, promotes equity of opportunity to people of color and promotes justice for all.

Support of Measure 26-179

This measure enables Portland to issue bonds to fund affordable housing. There is no issue of more immediate concern to hard working, low income families, adults with disabilities and seniors than the skyrocketing costs and limited availability of housing. Women and people of color are disproportionately affected among these populations. Without a home, it is impossible to raise a healthy child, maintain a job, attend school or engage in our community as a healthy, productive participant.

Promotes equity of opportunity, justice and dignity for all and empowers women.

Be Informed and Be Heard on Election Day!

Voting is the most fundamental way to exercise your political power. By voting we, decide who shapes the public policies that affect our lives and which ballot initiatives become law.

Voting Resources:

League of Women Voters Oregon; 2016 Voters Guide

State of Oregon: Voting Pamphlets