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Ore. Lawmakers Honored for Supporting Family Caregivers

The "Capitol Caregivers" of 2017 will be honored in Salem during the legislative days in January. (Chris Phan/Flickr)
The "Capitol Caregivers" of 2017 will be honored in Salem during the legislative days in January. (Chris Phan/Flickr)
December 12, 2017

SALEM, Ore. – AARP Oregon is honoring lawmakers who supported family caregivers during the 2017 Legislative session. Dubbed "Capitol Caregivers," the legislators were chosen for their efforts to protect older Oregonians.

Coming into this year's session, the organization was concerned that the state's large budget deficit would put senior services on the chopping block. But legislators from both sides of the aisle fought to save funding.

Jon Bartholomew is government relations director for AARP Oregon.

"It's a bipartisan list, Democrats and Republicans, who worked together on the state budget to make sure that there would be no cuts to senior services this year," he explains. "We went into this budget cycle looking at a $1.6 billion hole in the budget."

State Senators Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Portland), Jackie Winters (R-Salem), Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin), and Tim Knopp (R-Bend), and Representatives Nancy Nathanson (D-Eugene), Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) and Greg Smith (R-Heppner) were chosen as this year's Capitol Caregivers.

They'll be honored January 11 during the legislative days at the Capitol in Salem.

Services such as Oregon Project Independence, which keeps people from having to go on Medicaid, and programs that provide training, referrals and counseling to family caregivers were saved from drastic cuts this year.

Bartholomew calls budgets moral documents that reflect a state's values. He adds that the unpaid service caregivers provide would come at a hefty price otherwise.

"The amount of work that family caregivers do out of love, if we paid for it out of the state budget, would be worth over $5.7 billion a year," he adds.

Bartholomew says in 2018, AARP Oregon hopes the state can give caregivers more options for time off through respite services. It also is pushing for access to paid family leave so that people can make ends meet while providing for loved ones.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR