In a subtle but important and consistent manner the campaign and its many advocates worked hard to reconnect Oregonians to what was at risk — the fundamental public systems and structures that the state depends on and that are essential to their shared qulity of life.
This was different than merely offering a laundry list of the dire cuts that would ensue without new revenue. It was a coherent narrative about Oregon and its future. This excerpt from a letter to the editor by State Representative Chris Harker is emblematic:
“As a small-business owner, I'm convinced that in order for Oregon to prosper we need to have the courage and the will to create an enviornment that's profitable both for businesses and for the communities on which our businesses rely. Unless we properly fund our education system and protect working families and the services they need, we're going to struggle to compete in the growing global economy. The days in which low skills could generate high pay are disappearing. These tax measures are the next necessary steps to promoting the health and well being of our state as a whole.”
Getting back to Government as “us”– as a tool for getting things done– is an essential ingredient for winning tax and revenue debates. As Massachusetts citizens and advocates work to protect public services and programs in this difficult budget season they can learn from the Oregon experience and take heart in its success.
(Patrick Bresette is Associate Director of Public Works:the Demos Center for the Public Sector and has been working with ONE Massachusetts since its inception. Parts of this post first appeared in the Demos Ideas and Action Blog
crossposted at ONE Massachusetts