State budget crisis about to become a "catastrophe"

The municipal budget crisis currently striking the largest states in America is about to enter its worst phase. This NY Times article warns that as many as 300,000 teachers could be laid off this summer.

As a result, the 2010-11 school term is shaping up as one of the most austere in the last half century. In addition to teacher layoffs, districts are planning to close schools, cut programs, enlarge class sizes and shorten the school day, week or year to save money.
“We are doing things and considering options I never thought I’d have to consider,” said Peter C. Gorman, superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools in North Carolina, who expects to cut 600 of the district’s 9,400 teachers this year, after laying off 120 last year. “This may be our new economic reality.”
Districts in California have given pink slips to 22,000 teachers. Illinois authorities are predicting 17,000 public school job cuts. And New York has warned nearly 15,000 teachers that their jobs could disappear in June.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called it an "education catastrophe". That's how we should consider it in the short-term, but in the long-term it could be considered an "economic catastrophe" as our public schools fail to properly educate the next generation. In the longer term it might be a "democracy catastrophe" because an illiterate and uneducated populace is incompatible with a democratic society.
The only reason that many of these teaching jobs still exist is because of last year's stimulus bill. That money is mostly spent.

In the economic stimulus bill passed in February 2009, Congress appropriated about $100 billion in emergency education financing. States spent much of that in the current fiscal year, saving more than 342,000 school jobs, about 5.5 percent of all the positions in the nation’s 15,000 school systems, according to a study by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington.

Some may be under the impression that this is simply "trimming fat". That impression falls apart when you look at it on a local scale. For instance, looking at one school in the San Francisco School District.

All week Sanchez had been reeling from news that a whopping 10 out of his 20 full-time teachers had been issued pink slips by the San Francisco Unified School District. Including counselors, a vice principal, and other staff, the budget cuts essentially lopped off 24.6 percent of the school's workforce, an unprecedented blow that speaks volumes about the state of California public education.

Laying off half of the teachers is horrific under any measure. Class sizes will have to be increased by such an amount that the teacher's ability to do their jobs will be dramatically impaired.
Many community colleges in California will simply close this summer.

The layoffs aren't limited to just the schools. To give some examples:
The city of Los Angeles has plans for 3,546 permanent layoffs.
The state of California will be cutting 5,000 workers and it still won't have a balanced budget.
The city of Flint, Michigan, is laying off 46 police officers and 26 firefighters.
Atlantic City is cutting 59 police officers.

“I’ve been sitting on my hands. ... I’m not apologizing anymore,” he said. “This is a systematic destruction of our police department.”

The state of Illinois is cutting 460 state troopers and closing five of 22 regional headquarters.
The governor of Kansas says that the budget simply can't be balanced by cuts alone.
The state of New York will run out of money in June.
Arizona's governor is warning of a state "government collapse". He's not exaggerating.

"If you were to solve this budget problem just with cuts alone, if that was the only solution you wanted to enact, and you want to have a balance budget which they have to have — you'd virtually have to eliminate everything in the state government that's not (voter protected). So that would mean closing the department of corrections, closing all 150 smaller state agencies, not paying our debt service bills, and having some significant reductions to the unprotected funds in K-12, universities, AHCCCS and health services," Bee said.
You may be wondering what those "smaller" state agencies are. The judiciary system, juvenile corrections, the legislature, the Department of Public Safety, the revenue department, kid health programs and the state mental health hospital are in there.
About a third of non-protected funds have already been cut.

Nevada, which already runs a very lean budget, is looking at Medicare diaper rations and forcing personal care givers to buy their own gloves.
In Florida, the Republican legislature is making a budget that fits their values.

Both chambers are poised to pass millions in new tax breaks for businesses and yacht buyers while they struggle to find money for education and social services.

The list just goes on and on. The more you look, the more horror stories pop up. The timing will also be unfortunate. These cuts will be hitting this summer, right around the same time that the federal Census begins to let go its 700,000 temporary hires.

Comments

Rather funny

I have to admit, this post was really good! Thank you for the laughs!

For starters, to blame Fox for Iraq, alone, is pretty funny! In that case, I'll blame Obama for Afghanistan; while he didn't start it, he does appear ready to take it further (or else run like a coward at a specified date).

Secondly, how Fox, Rupert, and Sarah can convince CBS News, Gallup, CNN, NBC, Democracy Corps, and ABC to ALL modify their results so as to reflect a growing "rage" against the Fed Gov't is WAAAAY beyond me. Of course, if those same groups were to ONLY speak with conservatives and Independents, then yes, that would explain the anger. But of course those SAME polling groups "claim" to interview a particular percentage of conservatives, independents, and liberals. Then again, a perfect 1/3 of those same people who are interviewed could be lying and saying they are independents or liberals so as to throw off those same polling groups. But it's also possible that ALL the media is secretly against Obama and the Dems therefore they, themselves, are ALL lying about the results because of a HUUUUGE right-wing conspiracy that all of those same polling groups are members of.

Either way, you win this argument. I can't possibly compete against someone that believes Fox, Rupert, and Sarah have that much power.

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20 years and retire

Maybe it's time that public employees worked morre than 20 years for getting forty years of full-time pensions. These unions brought this on themselves by demanding and getting the best of everything. Maybe now they won't complain about working a couple weeks in the summer for merely straight time. It's a joke that's gone bad and now the joke is on the fat state pension leaches.

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Retirement after 20 years and trolls

First, it's wildly innacurate to lump all public employees together, since their pension plans vary all over the map. While it may be common for public safety people (police and fire) to retire after 20 years, most others cannot, not if we mean with a pension that can be lived on. There is a vast difference between a retirement system being structured to allow retirement after X number of years versus the number of years needed to receive a livable pension. Most systems multiply the years of service times a percentage factor times the base salary, with the percentage factor being reduced for retirement at younger ages. I put in 34 years as a California teacher and waited until age 61 and a half in order to get a decent pension; both the years and the age were necessary to the computation. The percentage multiplier for those with less than 30 years of service is 2% at age 60 and 1.4% at age 55. The absolute maximum multiplier is 2.4% at age 63 (age 61 and a half with 30 or more years of service). Far from being a "leach", I contributed 8% of my salary to the system during each of the 34 years - there is an employer match. Somebody's irrational resentment is misplaced. No wonder this particular Anonymous Drive-by has chosen to remain anonymous; he's a troll.

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Ray Joiner

trolls in anonymous comments

As your friendly neighborhood admin, I'm the one who goes through the anonymous comment moderation queue. I try not to screen on opinion, as long as it's not too nutso, more looking for referrer spam and so on. The reason is these people do just drive by, i.e. don't really join in, register and so on. That said, you can see there is some sort of serious outrage against public union employees as of late.

I'll only come down hard on something when I know it's a corporate agenda push or truly just a disaster in sheep's clothing and only when it's repeatedly pushed regardless of facts and stats.

Like the VAT thing. Out in "other sites", I have never seen such a misrepresentation of what a VAT even is. The right refusing to acknowledge it's regressive properties, the left refusing to acknowledge it's at the border adjustment properties (which makes it useful for trade deficits). It would be nice to argue the facts at least.

In fact last night Saturday Night Live did a skit (which I'll include next week) that was heavily negative on unions. Not saying SNL gets their facts right, seems only John Stewarts and Co. do that before poking fun.

But there is some sort of intense outrage/anger against public union people and it just doesn't make much sense to me, when the rest of the U.S. should be pushing up, pushing for those same benefits and wages.

If they want to attack a group for outrageous pay ripoffs one would think it would be the "executive class". Good God, there is an outrage.

Anyway, trolls? Eh, try misguided and misinformed. It's clearly coming from somewhere, some sort of major attack on public unions.

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O.K. I accept your usage.....

...if you want to call that particular guy misguided and misinformed, but not a troll, but I think it's hair-splitting. By the way, I was not implying you did anything wrong by failing to disallow his post.

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Ray Joiner

if it was a blog or Instapopulist post

Believe me, I would be all over it, in 2 seconds, as I would hope more EPers are critical readers and they too would vote something to unpublish if it was bogus/fiction. As noted in a previous post, we have bogus financial news continually, even in the New York Times, Washington Post Dean Baker is screaming today on this one, Brad Delong does almost daily call outs on the financial/economic press) and HuffPo has more than once been used as a lobbyist plant (for shame! They supposedly edit and approve everything!)

But comments I want to foster more use and discussion and I sure don't want to end up like the Political partisan blogs, where they just spam for their agenda and name call anyone who disagrees with it, facts, statistics be damned!

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The right-wing bitterness

is coming out big-time over public schools as they are taking big cuts. The comments are straight from the Tea Party bunch and they do work hard. If you ever wondered about their commitment to public schools, now we know. They want to wreck them. The "drive-by" comments are everywhere today venting about their hot buttons: union, pensions, class sizes, people of color, demonizing children and their parents, overpaid administrators. They are even more active then they were about health care. If I fight back, they tend to hit the abuse button. Give them "E" for effort.

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future

In the not to distant future candidates for public office in cities and municipalities will run on the promise to "take the city county muni etc through bankruptcy cleanly" to get out from under the killing debt.

Vote for the Bankruptcy candidate!

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teacher salary

Over the past twenty years, I have spent way over two-thousand dollars of my own salary JUST ON BOXES OF TISSUES--our school doesn't provide this classroom staple.

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Thank you for your service

I find it outrageous that teachers are forced to pay for supplies out of their own pocket and I know what you're saying is true, so thank you!

FYI, $2k for tissues? You need to order wholesale or at least Costco.

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