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AFT-Oregon Legislative Priorities 2019

Invest in Education 
Oregon has among the lowest corporate taxes in the country, which has left our schools and services badly underfunded. As a result, college tuition has skyrocketed and institutions continue to exploit contingent faculty. Corporate taxes have declined greatly in Oregon over the past few decades. In 1973, corporations paid 18.5 percent of all Oregon income taxes. Today, they pay just 6.7 percent, a decline of nearly two-thirds. Small businesses and individual Oregonians already pay their fair share in taxes, and large corporations should too. 2019 is the year we can level the playing field and create economic opportunity for all Oregonians.  
Ensure Robust Investment in Higher Education
The current recommended 2019-21 budget for the Public University Support Fund contains no increases, not even adjustments for inflation. The Community College Support Fund budget is even lower than it was in this biennium. Universities need an investment budget of $1 billion to increase completions and ensure more students of color and low income students succeed.  Community colleges need an investment budget of $786 million (including $70 million for career technical education) to double the numbers of students gaining CTE certification and increase wrap-around student support services. 
Secure Health Insurance for Adjunct Faculty
Many part-time faculty across Oregon teach more than half-time but are not eligible for any employer-paid health insurance. Even though their work totals up to more than half-time employment, most of their employers deny them any health coverage. LC 294 would provide access to health coverage to part-time faculty who teach more than half-time, whether at a single college or multiple public institutions. The Oregon Educator Benefits Board would administer and fund the program at no cost to the institutions.
Change Board of Trustees Appointments at Public Universities
Graduate employees form a large part of the workforce at our major universities but lack a dedicated seat alongside faculty and staff on university boards of trustees. We need to create a new position on these boards to ensure that all stakeholders are represented.
Protect PERS
Some politicians and CEOs are trying to trick the public into believing that Oregon public employees are overcompensated. They want people to think that retirement plans are something extra for public employees, not part of their remuneration. That makes PERS seem expendable, and it creates an excuse that corporations can use to avoid paying their fair share. PERS members have worked their entire careers, many at low-paying jobs, and deserve retirement security. 
Restore OEBB/PEBB Double-Coverage/Opt-Out
Under a recent law, when a working couple are both covered by OEBB or PEBB health insurance, one of the couple must become a dependent of the other. This provision no longer allows two public employees who are covered under either the state healthcare benefit plan (PEBB) or the school district health plans (OEBB) to both be covered as dependents of each other. It also prevents opt-out payments to the dependent who no longer purchases a full OEBB or PEBB policy. Many public employees are already struggling to afford health care costs for their families without this added burden.
Pass Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance
Whether it’s to welcome a new child, aid a loved one with a serious illness, or get care for themselves, almost everyone will need to take time off from work to deal with a medical issue. But most Oregonians, especially women of color and low-income workers, can’t afford to, and they’re forced to choose between caring for their family or keeping their paycheck. By ensuring all workers can afford to take time away from work when they need to, paid family and medical leave insurance will give families more financial stability during important life events.