To the Editor:
Thank you for your editorial about Illinois and Kansas as examples of states where policy makers do more harm than good (“Sorry Tales From Two Statehouses,” April 25).
Illinois’ record 10-month budget impasse is eroding much of its educational and social service systems. According to a poll of 444 Illinois social service providers, 85 percent are scaling back on the number of clients they serve.At least 3,200 homebound seniors have lost home-delivered hot meals.
Service agencies have laid off experienced and talented staff members, perhaps never to get them back. Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, the state’s largest social service provider, announced that it would cut 43 percent of its work force.
And all 29 Illinois agencies serving sexual assault survivors have instituted furloughs or left unfilled positions vacant, leaving survivors without essential services.
The damage is permanent, not easily or perhaps ever remedied. Even when funding is restored, we won’t simply return to business as usual. Ours is a real-life example for governments considering a similar path.
President, Sargent Shriver
National Center on Poverty Law
Full – 3 Column
Great recap of the welfare reform travesty – in which Clinton admits that the poorest families in the U.S. are worse off after welfare reform. Also describes how state control, combined with fiscal downturns, pulled money away from the poor.
The situation in Flint only gets worse: not surprisingly, residents are now worried about their property values, which have already fallen significantly over the past decade. The inability of many residents to sell their homes will only get worse as the reputation of the city’s water supply plummets. This means not only an ongoing crisis of lack of mobility for the city’s residents, who might want to move to better work opportunities, but a looming crisis for city’s already decimated property tax base. Residents will certainly request reassessments of their property values, which are tied to the true cash value of the home.
“Given what’s going on there, I’d have to imagine there’s a plummeting in the fair market value,” said Nathan Resnick, a Bloomfield Hills lawyer who specializes in tax appeals and real estate law. “There’s going to be disparity” between what assessors say the properties are worth and what buyers are willing to pay.
Morse said lenders are already skittish about lending in Flint and are asking appraisers to find comparable homes that have sold very recently rather than, say, eight months ago.”Eight months ago was a completely different market than what’s going on now,” Morse said.
Al Jazeera has also covered the story:
I’ve written a lot about how public pensions came to be blamed for the fiscal crisis looming (or already “crippling”) many cities and states. The National Public Pension Project has been working since 2007 to change the narrative about the value of public pension plans, and has an interesting website and blog.
NPPC believes every American should be able to retire in dignity. We also know that there is no one more interested in strengthening the public pensions system than the public employees who are counting on pensions to retire. After all, public pensions are the only source of retirement for 30% of public employees since they do not receive Social Security. Pension plans also play a vital role in decreasing poverty among older Americans, according to the National Institute for Retirement Security.
Across the country, public employees – who have faithfully contributed their life savings into the pensions systems — are at the mercy of public officials unfairly targeting their financial security for political gain. The NPPC is working to preserve the financial security of all workers for generations to come.
Follow their blog or check them out on twitter:
— National Public Pension Coalition (@ProtectPensions) April 8, 2016
Important article about the slippery slope from an underpaid teacher crowdfunding for classroom supplies to a bankruptcy city crowdfunding to clean up its parks. Crowdfunding is great when it funds new products that aren’t getting supported by more conventional forms of investment:
Public necessities, by contrast, are not awesome; they’re essential. Roads, health care, education: These are not the kinds of things that go viral and raise $2 million in less than a week. But if crowdfunding for the public good is allowed to continue unchecked, it’s not hard to imagine a future in which everyone votes on public works with their dollars—distorting priorities and giving those with deeper pockets more of a say.
Of all the crowdfunding appeals I’ve come across on facebook, a solid 90% of them are for healthcare expenses (and more often than not for dire conditions, like cancer or a terminal genetic disease). This is depressing not just because healthcare is also a public good (and these appeals make clear the inadequacy of our healthcare funding structure), but because it puts people in the position of begging for money at the most desperate time in their lives. Their very survival is now hitched not just to their own healthcare-employment situation, but to the wealth of their family members, classmates, and facebook connections. I’d like to call that evil too.
Infrastructure may not be sexy, but you tend to notice when it crumbles around you. BART has been having all kinds of problems lately, and its twitter account manager isn’t pulling any punches.
@tquad64 Planners in 1996 had no way of predicting the tech boom – track redundancy, new tunnels & transbay tubes are decades-long projects.
— SFBART (@SFBART) March 17, 2016
@jalrobinson At the end of the day, we're just trying to illustrate the importance of public transit to the Bay Area – and America.
— SFBART (@SFBART) March 17, 2016
— SFBART (@SFBART) March 17, 2016
We want semi-decent infrastructure without all the boring planning and funding that requires. Anyone who’s ridden a fixed rail system anywhere outside the U.S. has to suppress the shame of realizing your own country’s efforts at transportation are like a child’s haphazard train set. Do we care enough to fix it?
What rights to cities have to regulate the conditions under which their residents work? If some state legislatures had their way: none.
With federal efforts to increase pay for the lowest earners stalled by Republican opposition, a slew of states, cities and towns across the country have hiked the local base pay on their own. But other states are doing the opposite, in some cases passing laws prohibiting cities and towns from changing workers’ pay and benefits on their own.
Recent weeks have seen the continuation of a substantial pushback to efforts in cities and towns around the country to raise the minimum wage. Utah and Alabama are the latest examples of states either defeating measures to increase minimum pay or overriding local efforts to hike pay.
Of course these states argue that minimum wage policies destroy jobs (a claim successfully debunked by many, including the great researchers at UC Berkeley’s Labor Center, where I work). Here’s an Alabama senator parroting that argument:
Create more jobs for the young and less fortunate. Raising the minimum wage hurts the poor…the very group we should be helping.
— Bill Hightower (@BillHightowerAL) February 25, 2016
But even if state legislatures believe this, what are the implications of denying cities the power to pursue these policies and risk the consequences? Presumably, if wage policies are such a job killer, those firms will locate elsewhere in the state (a natural experiment in minimum wage policy). Are state legislatures really more concerned about urban workers than their own local representatives? Or are cities likely to pursue policies that might benefit the city but somehow damage the state’s economy in the long run?
I think it’s important not to just dismiss the Red-Blue political divide that pits state legislatures against their own city governments (although that is important terrain to expose, and certainly fundamental to Flint’s crisis, among other debacles). There is also an argument being implied about the proper power and economic relationship between cities and states, one that deserves real attention, both by activists and researchers. Remember that powers in our federal system often gravitate to one branch or another, and can be calcified there. What’s at stake here is the question of who has the power to implement economic policy.
Unlike some California school districts, which centralize and redistribute funds raised by parents, San Francisco so far has permitted all money raised at a school to stay there. This gives some schools an enormous advantage. School district data show that in 2011 (the most recent year tax records were available), parents of children at just 10 elementary schools raised $2.77 million — more money than those at the other 61 combined.
A very belated post on a great investigative series. This is what I want to research next, a really important issue particularly in California, where school funding is in the very bottom of state per pupil funding. Much of the debate in education centers around the impact of residential segregation on student outcomes and resource inequities between districts. As this investigation shows, inequities within districts are also prevalent: in San Francisco, there are vast differences in the amounts of money that individuals schools can raise from their student body and surrounding community.
By bringing in as much as $1,500 per student, the top fundraising schools appear to have been largely insulated from the effects of budgets cuts. Meanwhile, parents at high-poverty schools such as Junipero Serra are seeing shrinking resources for their children. This means laid-off staff, dilapidated libraries, outdated computers and a dearth of essential supplies like pencils and paper.
This happens in my own district, where there is no lottery or distribution of students as there is in Berkeley and (more halfheartedly) in San Francisco and Oakland. But here, in Albany, the PTAs have agreed to pool funds in response to outcry over the gaps in fundraising capacity between the schools.
LSU and many other public colleges in Louisiana might be forced to file for financial exigency, essentially academic bankruptcy, if state higher education funding doesn’t soon take a turn for the better.
Louisiana’s flagship university began putting together the paperwork for declaring financial exigency this week when the Legislature appeared to make little progress on finding a state budget solution, according to F. King Alexander, president and chancellor of LSU.
“We don’t say that to scare people,” he said. “Basically, it is how we are going to survive.”
Being in a state of financial exigency means a university’s funding situation is so difficult that the viability of the entire institution is threatened. The status makes it easier for public colleges to shut down programs and lay off tenured faculty, but it also tarnishes the school’s reputation, making it harder to recruit faculty and students.
Lawmakers have yet to move any revenue-raising measures — either a tax hike or tax credit rollback — during the session. A Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to take up an inventory tax repeal Wednesday afternoon (April 22) that would produce additional revenue for the state, though passage is far from certain.