Merkley Starts Statewide Tour Highlighting Drastic Impacts on Oregonians of Republican Budget Plan

Eugene, OR – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley kicked off a statewide tour of Oregon to highlight the very real impacts that the recently passed Senate budget will have on Oregonians and the need for a different approach that puts the middle class first. Merkley started his tour at the Whiteaker Head Start Center in Eugene this morning to discuss the cuts included in the Senate budget for Head Start programs. 

“Here we are in Eugene, where there is a wait list of 300 children that want to get into a Head Start program. But instead of making investments to give more kids a chance at Head Start, we are instead shutting the doors of opportunity by making that wait list even longer,” said Merkley. “That’s exactly the wrong direction we should be headed. We need a budget that works for working families.”

Under the Republican budget passed in the Senate last week, 330 fewer children in Oregon would have access next year to Head Start services, representing a permanently missed opportunity to help these children enter elementary school ready to succeed. Head Start has been proven to give children a strong educational and health foundation for the future. 

  • The Head Start Impact Study found that a higher proportion of Head Start parents read to their children more frequently than those parents of children who were not enrolled in Head Start.
  • Head Start children experience increased achievement test scores and that Head Start children experience favorable long-term effects on grade repetition, special education, and graduation rates.
  • Mortality rates for 5- to 9-year-old children who had attended Head Start are 33 to 50 percent lower than the rates for comparable children who were not enrolled in Head Start.
    • In fact, Head Start reduced the rates to the national average of mortality rates for all 5- to 9-year-old children.
    • The Head Start Impact Study demonstrated that a much higher proportion of Head Start children received dental care than those children who did not receive Head Start services.

In a state with one of the highest average costs of child care in the nation, Head Start is also an important resource to give lower-income parents in Oregon the opportunity to work regularly. 

“Head Start is exactly the kind of investment in middle class opportunity that we would prioritize if we’re committed to making America work for working Americans,” Merkley continued. “We need to make smarter choices.  We need to put the success of working families first again.”