Oregon Bright Futures Plan Legislative Hearings

By Jill Winsor

And Awpicay We Go! Kicking Off Our Oregon Bright Futures Plan Legislative Hearings.

There’s nothing quite like watching all of your months and months of hard work start to pay off. Which is exactly how we felt watching the Oregon Bright Futures hearings unfold this Tuesday in the House Early Childhood and Family Supports and Senate Education committees. We met with each committee to talk through the Children’s Savings Account platform we have designed for Oregon and to explain exactly how we plan to create a savings culture and a college going culture across the state.

Our three legislative champions kicked things off and demonstrated how commit
ted they are to ensuring we create a brighter future for Oregon’s Children. We are so excited by what they had to say:

  • This “sends a clear message that every kid is valued and every kid has potential.” – Representative Knute Buehler
  • “We know that when families talk about education with their kids, children have better outcomes.” – Representative Karin Power
  • “I firmly believe that families should have multiple on – ramps to savings for college.” – Representative Janelle Bynum

After hearing from our champions, Melissa Hicks, Oregon Asset Building Coalition Co-chair and Director of Community and Family Programs at Self Enhancement Inc. talked about how the Oregon Bright Futures Plan will meet the needs of the community she serves: “CSAs will instill two things that our community desperately needs – an increase in financial healthy habits and a developed sense of college identity, at a young age.”

Rebecca Loya and I brought the nitty-gritty detail to the conversation. Rebecca, a senior researcher from Brandeis University walked us through the remarkable research on the impacts of Children’s Savings Accounts. Make sure to read the great literature review of this research here. It was my job to walk the committees through exactly what our bills do. You can read through my written testimony to learn more.

And do you remember that Technical Advisory Committee we’ve been convening to support the design of the platform? Those incredible volunteers showed up in force to voice their support!

  • “Columbia Bank is looking forward to supporting this initiative! We absolutely believe that this is the right thing for community banks to be doing in our communities.” – Cara Thompson, the chief compliance officer at Columbia Bank.
  • “The Bankers Association supports the bill!” – Tim Martinez, Oregon Bankers Association lobbyist
  • “I really want to commend Neighborhood Partnerships and all the work they have put in to bringing us all together. This fits very well with the work of Credit Unions in Oregon in financial education and financial literacy.” – Pam Leavitt, policy advisor for the Northwest Credit Union Association

In addition to those supporters, Ken Thrasher, from the Oregon Business Council’s Poverty Task Force told the committee “We really do support this as one of our poverty reduction strategies for the Oregon Business Council. Creating a culture of savings, financial literacy and planning for the future is really important for children and families. These accounts are part of that strategy.”

Quin Collins, Oregon Asset Building Coalition Co-Chair and IDA Program Manager at College Dreams reminded us exactly why we need this platform in Oregon – “The community I grew up and now work in is not known for its college going culture. Kids don’t grow up believing they will do anything significant after high school, and may in fact have their dreams discouraged by parents who don’t want their kids to have unrealistic expectations.” The plan is designed to change the culture in Quin’s community and in communities across Oregon, ensuring that they can imagine the possibility of a brighter future.

We’ve worked long and hard laying the groundwork for a successful legislative session. Just as we are working hard with all of our partners to lay the groundwork for a savings platform that will meet the needs of Oregon families. A huge thank you to our legislative champions and all of the supporters who showed up for us on Tuesday. Make sure to watch the recording of both of our hearings here –

House Committee on Early Childhood and Family Supports

Senate Committee on Education

You can also find the full set of written testimony and meeting materials here.