I built my 2013 legislative agenda on the simple premise that all Oregonians deserve their shot at the American dream. It's a commitment to equity and opportunity for all, secure jobs with upward income mobility, and safe, secure communities where people have a sense of common purpose and commitment to one another.
And if, as I believe, it is the promise of equal opportunity that lies at the heart of the American Dream -- the promise that if you work hard you can build a better life for yourself and your family; the promise that each subsequent generation will be better off than the last one -- then public education is the vehicle through which the American Dream is most directly fulfilled today.
This bill will help those young Oregonians whose families have brought them here, who attend our schools, who work hard, get good grades, graduate from high school -- exactly the kinds of students we want in Oregon's public universities -- get their shot at the American Dream.
Tuition Equity allows us to capitalize on the investment we have made in these young people through the K-12 system, building Oregon's economy by supporting and cultivating the incredible talent, entrepreneurship, and skills of all of Oregon's young people.
I am proud to join this coalition of supporters for a change in policy that is long overdue, and I want to recognize a few of the many people who made it possible.
First, I'd like to thank Senator Peter Courtney, who began working on this issue work more 10 years ago, and whose tireless support was essential to its passage. And I'd like to thank the Legislature for its work to bring this bill forward this year and pass it with strong support.
Thank you to Laura Lanka, the former Woodburn High School principal, and who is here with us today. Laura wrote to Senator Courtney in 2002, bringing this issue to light and making the case for tuition equity.
I'd like to recognize the students who came to Salem to advocate for their future and testify to the Legislature, including Edith Gomez, a University of Oregon student you will hear from shortly.
Finally, I'd like to thank advocacy groups such as Causa and PCUN, OUS & University Presidents, Oregon Alliance for Educational Equity, Oregon Nursery Association, AOI, Oregon Business Association, Oregon Student Association, Oregon Dreamers, & Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs all of which provided critical input and support, and supporters across the state, who recognized that together, we can and will create new opportunities for a whole new generation of Oregon students, and help them reach for the American Dream.
Now I would like to introduce Edith Gomez, who will share her story.