Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Local Jobs for America Act Will Save A Quarter Million Education Jobs

When congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, something that ultimately cost a few of them their jobs, it was the private sector that was the chief beneficiary. Banks that were on the verge of failing got a leg up. Automobile builders were propped up.

And America did not sink into a years-long depression to rival the one we had in the 1930’s.

A depression that we ultimately clawed ourselves out of with a massive government spending program known as World War II.

So now the banks are healthy, the stock market is up, and unemployment has ceased to increase.

But now we are poised at the edge of a new abyss at the state and local level. California is but the first state to find itself in severe financial straits largely because it handcuffs itself every year when it has to pass a budget with a 2/3ds majority in their state house. Other states, including Texas, where an $11 billion shortfall is projected in the next budget cycle.

The next cycle of jobs to be lost are those in the public sector. As states run out of money to pay its teachers, policemen, firemen and first responders, they will have to start trimming the job rolls.

Enter New York Congressman Maurice Hinchey who has taken a lead in urging those in the US Senate to immediately take under consideration a bill recently filed by Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa. SB 3206 sponsored by Tom Harkin and 26 senate co-sponsors, known as the Keep Our Educators Working Act of 2010, which allocates $23 billion to be distributed to the states on a student per capita basis in order to restore reductions in state funding for salaries of those working in public school education.

Congressman Hinchey, in his press release, explains that the US Congress had passed this $23 billion allocation in December and sent it to the Senate, but the Senate, which has yet to act on the bill, decided it wanted to act on these allocations on a piecemeal basis.

Fine then. In April Rep George Miller of CA-7, who makes education his hobbyshop, filed HR 4812, the Local Jobs for America Act, which restored this $23 billion allocation for educators as well as for those of other employees who are paid through state coffers.

Then Harkin filed his bill which specifically targets educators, and contains language borrowed from Miller’s bill, with the $23 billion figure. If the Senate acts quickly, before states make draconian decisions in their next round of budgeting, the House can respond on a timely basis and get these funds released to the states after Barack Obama signs the legislation into law.

Saving, it is projected, a quarter of a million jobs in public education. Jobs that will otherwise be lost due to state budget cutbacks that are the direct result of a decrease in revenue, a time-delayed consequence of the 2007-2009 Recession.

Jobs that, once lost, are difficult to put back because a new generation would have to be recruited and trained up to meet growing education needs.

Because like it or not, the population is not going to go down and education of the next generation is a necessary requirement as competition for the limited resource known as superior intelligence and know-how becomes severe.

As it will.

Really, there is no choice here.

Rep. Hinchey has a “Dear Colleague” letter that he is sending to his colleagues in the Senate urging their immediate action on this. You can sign a similar one by going here to the National Education Association and entering your zip code.

Really, there is no choice here.

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