Tonight, residents of Multnomah County voted to pass Preschool for All, a ballot measure that will create free preschool for all 3 and 4 year olds in Multnomah County, and implement an increased wage for all preschool teachers and assistants, funded by an income tax on the wealthy.

Shortly after the Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America was founded, we began engaging with the budget processes at the city, county, and state levels. We grew increasingly frustrated as we watched our elected officials push more austerity. They cut funding year after year, eliminating jobs people need to put food on the table and cutting services people rely on, saying we “just don’t have the money.” Meanwhile, we also watched as luxury high rises continued to go up on every corner. Our violent police department’s budget continued to grow. Our city’s richest residents got even richer, while the rest of us struggled.

In Multnomah County, at least 20% of children are living in poverty, while the wealth of the top 1% grows year after year. The number of millionaires in Multnomah County has grown faster in Oregon than any other state. It doesn’t have to be this way. No one earns that much wealth — the working class of this country are the ones who create its wealth. It’s time for us to take it back to fund the things we need.

DSA began a campaign to “Tax The Rich” in 2017, and after building a coalition of unions, social justice organizations, parents, teachers, and community members, we were able to mobilize over 500 volunteers to gather more than 32,000 signatures — in one month — during a global pandemic, and thousands of passionate Multnomah County residents in support of Preschool for All. Our Preschool for All plan is UNIVERSAL, meaning ALL 3 and 4 year olds will be covered without means testing. It will also raise wages for all preschool workers, who will have incomes at parity with elementary educators. And because Preschool for All is paid for by those with the highest incomes, we can start to shrink the massive inequality in our county by redistributing the enormous wealth held at the top.

We’re so proud to have WON this campaign for Multnomah County. To all Multnomah County residents, we’d like for you to ask yourselves — what can we win next? Taxing the rich to fund Universal Preschool is just the beginning. We aren’t done yet. So long as our myopic elected officials pour money into policing while defunding essential social services, we will be there to correct their mistakes. Our community is not spoken for by corporate politicians — it’s spoken for by the people. We will continue to fight against austerity, oligarchy, and the police state. We all deserve to thrive, and a more equitable and just world is within our reach. Join us to help make it a reality.

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The Portland Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America is building an open, democratic socialist presence in the Portland-metro area and connecting socialists across Oregon. We believe both the economy and society should be run democratically to meet human needs and end oppression, not to make profits for a few. We are organizing together to make that a reality. Find us online, and on Twitter and Facebook.

The Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. Hailing from all corners of the socialist left, our goal is a better world beyond capitalism.