State and local governments continue to bleed jobs even as the economy slowly recovers and state governments see their tax revenues rise. The fiscal improvement isn’t translating into more or better public services. State governments are stashing their growing funds instead of giving increased assistance to struggling local governments, or to services for their citizens. As a result, teachers, firefighters, policemen, and government agency personnel continue to receive pink slips. More than half the job loss for local governments is in the area of education.
The worst offenders are the 11 states where Republicans seized control of both houses of the legislatures after the 2010 elections. While governors and legislators made many promises about job creation during that election, they have instead targeted public workers to such an extent that the economy is threatened.
What the residents of these states may not realize is that their governments are hoarding increased revenues in either their general funds or their rainy day funds, or both. Below are the 11 states and where to find the money, according to the Report By The National Governors Association for Spring, 2012:
Alabama: $51,000,000, general fund
Indiana: $1,124,000,000, general fund; $57,000,000, rainy day fund
Maine: $20,000,000, general fund; $7,000,000, rainy day fund
Michigan: $554,000,000, general fund; $2,000,000, rainy day fund
Minnesota: $1,289,000,000, general fund; $9,000,000, rainy day fund
Montana: $340,000,000, general fund
New Hampshire: $27,000,000, general fund; $9,000,000, rainy day fund
North Carolina: $582,000,000, general fund; $296,000,000, rainy day fund
Ohio: $845,000,000, general fund
Pennsylvania: $1,073,000,000, general fund
Wisconsin: $86,000,000, general fund
These eleven states account for fully 40.5 percent of 2011’s total job losses in the public sector. Texas alone ($1,136,000,000, general fund; $5,012,000,000, rainy day fund), which was already in the hands of Republicans, accounted for an additional 31 percent of the losses. In other words, a total of 71.5 percent of the losses come from 24 percent of the states, all of which are controlled by the GOP.
As stated in The New York Times today, this massive loss of jobs means “longer response times to fires, larger class sizes, and in some cases lawsuits when short-staffed agencies are unable to provide the required services.” And even though the GOP is notoriously pro-business, the private sector suffers, too. Businesses need firefighters to show up, roads to be built, and workers to be educated.
All of those who are thinking of voting Republican this time around might ask themselves this question: What do I want to see happen if it’s my house that’s on fire?