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Local Budget Impacts From COVID-19 Hurting Essential Workers, Cal Cunningham Has Called For Additional Direct Aid

As economic fallout from COVID-19 continues, state and local governments are staring down devastating budget prospects, including laying off millions of teachers, and other essential health care and safety workers. 

New analysis reveals that 1.3 million local government jobs have been lost in just April and May alone, including 310,000 in the educational sector and 177,000 in health care, social work, and public safety, among others. These individuals provide essential services and resources to their communities, “many of which are amid the ongoing public health crisis, subsequent economic hardship and civil unrest.” Without federal aid, it will only get worse. 

Now, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities projects shortfalls of $615 billion over the next three years and emphasized that current federal aid “is much too small to allow states to avoid laying off teachers…and taking other steps that would worsen the recession and delay recovery.” 

What that number looks like in states across the country is a potential loss of nearly 2 million educators. North Carolina Association of Educators Vice President Becky Pringle says: “The bottom line is that districts must spend more, not less, especially if we are to reopen schools safely.” 

Cal Cunningham has called for additional financial relief for towns and cities, to help keep teachers, first responders and public safety officials on payroll, as well as to continue providing important public services like waste management and infrastructure support.  

The Raleigh News & Observer also called on Republicans to take action as local governments face budget crises, but Thom Tillis and Mitch McConnell still refuse to prioritize funding to relieve budget shortfalls, leaving our communities vulnerable in a time of crisis.

We cannot afford to jeopardize public services across North Carolina like public safety and education, especially during a global pandemic. It’s on Congress to act urgently to pass the emergency funding they deserve.

NC Policy Watch: Report: The pandemic wiped out 1.3M local gov’t jobs in just two months

By John Micek  – June 23, 2020

  • While the most recent federal jobs report pointed toward a labor market that might slowly be rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic, one segment of the labor market was notably absent from that bounce, and it’s one that impacts Americans most directly.
  • Local governments shed nearly 1.3 million jobs in April and May, according to an analysis by the National Association of Counties. The bulk of those losses, 310,000 positions, came from the education sector, according to the report.
  • But, “another 177,000 jobs were non-education jobs such as healthcare practitioners, social workers, law enforcement officers, maintenance crews and construction workers,” the report found, as it tallied a loss of 523,000 non-education jobs since the nation went into lockdown in March.
  • “Individuals in these jobs are directly responsible for providing essential services and resources to counties, many of which are amid the ongoing public health crisis, subsequent economic hardship and civil unrest,” the analysis concluded.
  • These losses come as local and county governments, like other sectors of the economy, have seen a cratering of their tax revenues. Counties have lost $114 billion in revenues, according to the analysis.
  • “As counties wrestle with financial realities, many are forced to furlough workers, pause nonessential capital projects and rework depleted budgets while continuing essential services to residents,” the analysis concluded.
  • As a result, some 120 counties “have been forced to furlough or lay off a share of the county workforce due to COVID-19 budget impacts, though many more counties are expected to have enacted similar measures,” the analysis found.

Politico Pro: Teacher layoffs will keep schools from reopening safely, witness tells House panel

By Nicole Gaudiano – June 15, 2020

  • State budgets devastated by Covid-19-related shortfalls will lead to a wave of teacher layoffs at a time when more educators are needed for students to return to classrooms safely, witnesses told a House panel Monday.
  • “For us to think that we are going to send our students back to school safely and provide them with the quality education we believe they all deserve — we know that cannot happen,” she said. “We need the Senate to act right now.”
  • The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities projects total state shortfalls of $615 billion over the next three state fiscal years, said Michael Leachman, CBPP’s vice president for state fiscal policy, adding that “it’s hard to exaggerate the magnitude of this crisis.”
  • “Federal aid provided so far, while helpful, is much too small to allow states to avoid laying off teachers and other workers and taking other steps that would worsen the recession and delay recovery,” he said.
  • The witnesses spoke during a House Education and Labor hearing on the impact of Covid-19 on public education, including budget cuts and lost learning. Last week, the Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on how to safely reopen schools.
  • Already, nearly 500,000 public education jobs have been lost because of the pandemic, according to NEA figures, and a loss of 1.9 million education jobs in public schools and universities is projected over the next three years. The CARES Act, H.R. 748 (116), provided nearly $31 billion for education stabilization, including $13.2 billion to help K-12 schools.
  • Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.) said public education is usually one of states’ largest expenditures and unless the federal government provides immediate relief, “It won’t be a matter of whether education funding will be cut, but how deep the cuts will be.”
  • “While wealthier districts will fall back on property taxes, low income public schools will rely heavily on state funding,” he said. “These districts which are already disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 will suffer severe cuts in education and other areas at a time when they can least afford it.”
  • Pringle said the potential loss of nearly 2 million educators would be “devastating” for students in schools that are already underresourced.
  • Children will need extra support from teachers and counselors in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in police custody. Schools also need protective equipment for students and staff, and retrofitted classrooms for social distancing.
  • “The bottom line is that districts must spend more, not less, especially if we are to reopen schools safely,” she said.
  • Eric Gordon, chief executive officer of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, said his district is facing the threat of losing up to $127 million dollars in state and local revenue in the year ahead — nearly 25 percent of his district’s net operating budget.
  • “If this worst-case scenario were to occur, I will have no choice but to make deep, devastating cuts to my district this winter and implement those cuts for second semester of the school year,” he said.