With Legislative Kickoff in OR, Native American Youth Plot Priorities
Friday, February 4, 2022
Gov. Kate Brown's State of the State address kicked off Oregon's short legislative session, and organizations advocating for diverse communities are watching closely.
Brown gave her final address as Oregon governor virtually this year. She outlined a host of priorities, including a $400 million proposal to address affordable housing. The focus on housing and homelessness aligns with the center's goals.
Will Miller, advocacy manager for the Native American Youth and Family Center Action Fund (NAYA) in Portland, said as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, so do the needs of vulnerable populations.
"Continued investments in communities that are most impacted is really the most important thing," Miller emphasized. "With COVID and all the issues we've experienced with that, our communities are continuing to struggle, and our youth are struggling, right, in terms of our education and being out of the classroom for so long because of COVID."
In education, the Action Fund supports money to provide professional learning opportunities to educators on ethnic-studies standards and funding for the Department of Early Learning and Care. In her speech, Brown proposed a $100 million investment in child care.
Brown also touted her work advocating for tribal nations in Oregon.
Miller noted the Legislative Commission on Indian Services has good relationships with tribal partners.
"I know Governor Brown has worked to do that as well," Miller explained. "I think it will also be really important for whoever the next governor becomes to continue that same relationship-building and fostering that relationship with our tribal partners."
Brown stressed addressing racial disparities in housing and the workforce will be key for her remaining time in office. The NAYA Action Fund is supporting a measure from the governor which would expand access to culturally relevant preschool. The organization also hopes lawmakers approve a bill to declare racism a public health crisis, which would create two mobile health units.
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