The Minor Party with Major Possiblities.

WFP primary endorsements are now closed

March 28th, 2014 by shughes

By act of the of the board, the Oregon Working Families Party has closed its primary endorsements process as of Wednesday, March 26, 2014. If you applied for our endorsement before that time we will contact you regarding our decision. Thank you!

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The WFP celebrates with Oregon students at Governor Kitzhaber’s ceremonial signing of Pay It Forward!

September 17th, 2013 by salloy

Governor Kitzhaber signs Pay It Forward (HB 3472) with WFP chair Jeff Anderson, WFP staff Steve Hughes and Sami Alloy, Representative Michael Dembrow, Portland State University students, Tracy Gibbs, Kevin Rackham, Nathan Hunt, Jason Junkkarinen, Phoenix Singer, and UFCW Local 555 President Dan Clay.

Oregon Working Families celebrated Governor Kitzhaber’s ceremonial signing of Pay It Forward, yesterday in the Oregon Capitol alongside Representative Michael Dembrow (D / WFP), Portland State University students who helped create the bill, the Oregon Student Association, and our allies from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555. The bill directs the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to create a pilot program which would allow Oregon public college and university students to pay no tuition up-front, and instead pay a small percentage of income after graduation into a public fund that would allow other students to do the same. Pay It Forward gained national attention when it passed unanimously in the Oregon Legislature on July 1st, the same day that federal student loan interest rates doubled because Congress failed to act.

Read more about Pay It Forward here.

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Pay It Forward Goes National

August 14th, 2013 by salloy

WFP campaign manager Sami Alloy (left) talks with State Representative Phil Barnhart (middle) and Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley (right).

On Friday August 9th, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley unveiled a plan for a national Pay It Forward bill. The Guaranteed College Affordability Act of 2013 would fund 5-year-long Pay It Forward pilot programs in states, with the condition that states’ public contributions to higher education did not decrease.

“Our economy depends on a strong and growing middle class, and more than ever the road to middle class success runs through college,” said Merkley. “With students starting their working lives burdened by tens of thousands of dollars in debt, it’s clear the old models aren’t working anymore. We need bold new initiatives that put opportunity for middle class Oregonians at the heart of our economy.”

Click here to read the full press release.

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Dan Cantor: “The value of a life is not determined by skin color.”

July 14th, 2013 by salloy

Working Families Party Executive Director Dan Cantor released the following statement in response to the verdict in George Zimmerman’s trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin:

A young man has been killed and we grieve for him, his parents and the nation. The jury’s verdict is incomprehensible, and no amount of rationalizing by apologists can change that grim fact. In our heart of hearts, we know this is a racist verdict. The jury — and the nation, if we are telling the truth — was simply unable to see and respect Trayvon Martin’s life, and thus his death did not register as worthy. The value of a life is not determined by skin color, no matter what our justice system appears to believe. Americans must come together to affirm the equal moral value of every person.

Last year, Dan Cantor published an op-ed titled “My Son Doesn’t Look Like Trayvon,” available here.

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A brief history of our campaign to end student debt

July 5th, 2013 by shughes

PSU students and Oregon Working Families present their proposal to Oregon legislators on campus.

In the fall of 2012, a group of Portland State University students joined forces with Oregon Working Families and Jubilee USA to study the issue of student debt and to explore solutions to  this problem that is quickly taking on crisis proportions.

The students settled on a creative, state-based solution pioneered by the Economic Opportunity Institute out of Seattle.  The plan, sometimes referred to as “Pay it Forward,” would lead to a system of debt free higher education for students at Oregon public colleges and universities and presented their research to a panel of legislators.

From an idea to advocacy

Later, the Oregon Working Families Party moved the issue of student debt and the “Pay it Forward” proposal to the top of its electoral and legislative agendas.  Candidates were asked to to stake out their position on student debt as a requirement for receiving the cross-nomination of the WFP in the election.

The WFP met with allies such as the Oregon Student Association, and leaders from within the university system, and the State Treasurer.  By the time the the legislative session started, we were ready to begin an aggressive push to pass legislation (HB 3472) aimed at taking the first step toward creating a system of debt free higher education in the state.

Victory!

State Representatives Dembrow and Gorsek (left and third from left) join student Ariel Gruver and Senator Jeff Merkley to discuss student debt crisis.

On July 1st, the Oregon legislature voted unanimously to pass HB 3472, officially launching the state down a new path in how it thinks about funding higher education and dealing with the student debt crisis.

Oregon as a national model?

Something about the stirrings in Oregon have hit a national nerve, because the media response to the passage of HB 3472 has been overwhelming.  The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, ABC News all covered the story.  The Associated Press ran a story which got picked up in almost 130 press outlets around the country including The Huffington Post, the Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report…to name a few.

People around the country are taking notice of what is going on in Oregon.  When students everywhere are staring down the barrel of tens of thousands of dollars of bank debt just to get a basic education, is it any wonder there is a hunger for a solution?

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