REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Racial Justice Council
October 28, 2020
Good morning everyone, thank you all for being here. I’m really excited to get started on this week’s presentations. The discussions we had last week were profound, and I’m looking forward to more to come.
Today we’re going to discuss three policy areas that, now more than ever, matter to Oregonians: health, economic opportunity, and the environment.
I should also say that my team has heard from community leaders and advocates on policy recommendations that do not fit in the 6 committees. To build a more equitable Oregon, we need to support and to protect immigrant and refugee communities. With our limited time together, we won’t be able to discuss all of these issues at this time, but I ask that you take the time to review those and provide your recommendations through the prioritization matrices.
We’re embarking on the process of building out the Governor’s Recommended Budget, which I’m sure is feeling bureaucratic, and clunky, and non-transparent.
We know that we are trading implementing an anti-racist process in order to GSD for this budget and policy session.
My team and I are asking a lot of you, but we’re asking for grace as we move through this clunky process. We’re asking for trust that your recommendations will inform my budget and confidence that these concepts will become bills this legislative session.
In the past, the budget process has been informed entirely by the agencies, policy advisors, and stakeholders who had ready, easy access to my team. This has been true for my budgets and my predecessors.
This year, your work is informing the agency staff, policy advisors, and myself all of whom attend committee meetings.
We are infusing what we hear from you into each step of the decision making process for the budget. As you may recall from our first meeting, the RJC started in the middle of the budget process. My longer term strategy is to infuse racial justice and implement racial impact statements at the outset of the budget process and build agency requests around these concerns.
Right now, we’re focused on the short-term, but what we are really doing is sowing the seeds for the long- term change. And overhauling an entire system that was built on racism. It will take time and it’s going to take hard work.
People sometimes ask me what “success” looks like with a budget, and with what we’re trying to do. I will say this: we can’t define success by this budget alone, that’s not why I have invited you all here to be members of this Council.
My hope is that we can define our success as working together to release a budget on December 1 that reflects the voices of this Council.
That’s one step forward.
We’re not going to be able to include every single recommendation, but for the first time in Oregon’s history we are going to be unapologetic about tackling racism.
The Governor’s Budget has a dramatic impact on the legislatively adopted budget. So, there’s no question in my mind that the work of the RJC will impact both the budget and the policy agenda. I am focused on getting two large branches of state government – the legislative and the executive – to radically transform. This will take time, but we have to take this important step forward.
And after our meeting on November 3rd, I will ask this Council to turn your attention to crafting the bills that will be introduced on behalf of the council for the 2021 legislative session, developing a legislative action plan, and ultimately, taking next steps that might include institutionalization of this council.
Our ultimate goal is to dismantle racism and ensure that people of color in Oregon have the chance to thrive.
And with that, thank you, and let’s get to work.
I want to thank Daesha and Steph from Tusk for guiding this work that we’re doing. It’s incredibly important work.
And I want to thank all of you for giving your time, your experiences, and your expertise to today’s meeting.
I know from experience how frustrating it is that we cannot accomplish all of our priorities this budget cycle. But I think it’s clear that for the first time ever, we are going to inform the legislative process in a way that unapologetically calls out racism.
This work is incredibly important because the legislature usually adopts about 95% of the Governor’s budget. Radical transformation takes time, but I’m absolutely committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with you to get it done.
After we wrap up the Governor’s Recommended Budget, we will shift our time together to develop legislative strategies for the 2021 legislative session. The legislative process can be daunting, but what keeps me grounded is knowing who and what we’re doing this all for: our people and our earth.
This is what we will leave behind for generations to come. And future Oregonians will rightly judge us not on the fact of racial injustice, but the steps we’ve taken to deconstruct it.
Today we’ve delved into how we can address health equity, economic opportunity, and environmental equity.
I also want to remind you that we shared with you the other policy area recommendations that we did not have time for discussion today. Please review those important policy and budget proposals.
I can’t speak for all of you, but I know I got a ton out of today. I look forward to reviewing your recommendations through the prioritization matrix table.
So, thank you for your time and energy, and I can’t wait to see you back here next week.