Federal assistance needed to avert economic crisis in Connecticut
With Connecticut still stuck in a severe economic recession and federal stimulus funds due to run out next year, public-sector unions – including CEA — are urging representatives in Washington to pass a federal jobs creation bill.
“Economists say that unless Congress acts to help state and local governments address their shortfalls, thousands of Connecticut residents will lose their jobs this year, and more than three million in both the public and private sectors across America will be out of work by 2012,” said Mark Waxenberg. The CEA Director of Government Relations spoke at a February 18 State Capitol press conference concerning the critical importance of investing in public services – including teaching positions.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed jobs legislation in December that includes critical aid to states to avert layoffs of middle-class Americans who provide crucial public services like education. However, the Senate has yet to pass similar legislation. The Jobs for Main Street Act includes an Education Jobs Fund that will help states retain or create an estimated 250,000 education jobs over the next two years as well as funds for school construction, renovation, and modernization.
“The truth is that this recession is far deeper than anyone imagined, with Connecticut facing a projected budget shortfall for the fiscal year ending this June of hundreds of millions of dollars,” added Waxenberg.
“When the aid provided by the current stimulus bill ends, states like Connecticut will have no choice but to continue cutting away at services that provide the foundation for local economies. Whenever there’s a setback in public education, it has a ripple effect throughout the economy in the area of unemployment – and it takes a long time for us to come back.””
Waxenberg was among several public-sector union representatives and state legislators. Also speaking at the press conference was Sal Luciano, executive director of AFSCME Council 4, John Olsen, president, Connecticut AFL-CIO, State Senator Edith Prague, State Representative and House Majority Leader Denise Merrill, and State Representative Joe Aresimowicz.
“Who would want to live in a place with dirty streets, high crime, and poor schools? It’s clear that further cuts only result in further damage to local communities and more job losses,” said Luciano, who also announced the release of a report, Putting Connecticut Back to Work: How Investment in Public Services will Save Jobs and Grow the Economy.
The report stated that without additional federal stimulus, the trend toward deteriorating state support to local communities will continue. This will lead to cuts in local services, jobs – and inevitably – property tax increases as communities struggle with dramatically falling revenues.
“Our state and local governments are in crisis and need assistance until people are back working and paying taxes,” said Olsen.
“Without additional funding, our public safety, our health needs, our children’s education and our state’s ability to retain and attract new businesses will suffer. At this time of crisis, we need public services now more than ever. We are pushing for federal assistance to help get us back on track.”