As if the red tape and the benefits for the poor weren't bad enough, Governor Kitzhaber's proposed budget further axes Adult & Family Service's (AFS) budget. Almost simultaneously with this announcement, the University of Oregon released a study giving insight into exactly how thousands in Oregon fight to keep their heads above water.
With the proposed budget calling for decreases in the very areas where researchers see need for increases, Sandra Morgan, one of the study's chief researchers, believes the governor's budget heads the opposite direction of what Oregon's working poor need.
Despite a high employment rate during the last two years, about half of the families in the study were living below the poverty level even after using food stamps and other AFS services. Low-wage workers often don't receive benefits, have little opportunity for job advancement, and no opportunity for more education or training. Moreover, points out Morgan, benefits "often end too soon, before a family's need diminishes."
While Gov. Kitzhaber had no chance to see the report before releasing his proposal, Morgan hopes policy makers will consider the newly released information before their final decisions. "These people were really, really poor, and now they're just really poor," said Morgan. "Are we going to say as a state that because people are doing better we've solved the problem?" MICHELLE MILNE
Hard hat politics
Ever since the WTO protests in 1998, where hard-hat laborers found common ground with environmentalists, the lefty movement has increasingly been reaching out to labor. So it has been in Portland over the past few months.
Worried that workers' rights in Portland were at risk from a newly formed anti-terrorism unit--a collaborative effort between Portland police and FBIDave Mazza, a board member of Jobs With Justice, has been drawing labor unions into a coalition of groups opposed to the police spying.
Critics claim that the Task Force allows police to investigate political activists, including labor unions. Currently about ten unions have joined the effort. Mazza hopes that number will grow and calls will start rolling in to the City Council from angered workers. ANGELA TORRETTA