Things to Know- April 24

This week’s update is focused on how the City’s budget cuts are affecting us. The letter also focuses more on national politics than previous letters that only focused on DOE and NYC issues. But the root of the budget cuts problem is at the federal level, so please take time to consider the following.

Topics:

1. Staggered Retrieval of Items

2. NYC Budget Cuts for 2020

3. Projected NYC Budget Cuts for 2021

4. Corporate vs. Public Bailouts

5. State and Local Bailouts in the 2nd CARES Act Stimulus Bill 

1. Staggered Retrieval of Items
Before the summer break, all staff who request it will be given access to the building to retrieve personal items. Access times will be staggered and coordinated by administration. We don’t have details on the times or days yet, but administration will be working out a schedule (your chapter leader should discuss with administration during consultation). 


2. NYC Budget Cuts for 2020
The Mayor is cutting $2 billion dollars from the City’s budget for 2020. In the coming year, our students won’t have Summer Youth income or as many new school air conditioners, our staff will have fewer opportunities for PD (i.e. freely provided CTLE hours), and parents will have fewer opportunities for 3-K (~$15,000 in child care savings a year). There is a hiring freeze at many City agencies, including the DOE, though some school vacancies will be filled by moving teachers out of the ATR pool (i.e. previously excessed or disciplined staff who are retained as subs) and into permanent posts. These cuts and freezes are sure to have an effect on who your school hires as well as your ability to have out-of-the-classroom positions (i.e. coaches, related service coordinator, IEP coordinator, etc.). These are conversations your consultation committee will have with your principal, and they should share notes with all staff.


3. Projected NYC Budget Cuts for 2021
The Mayor is expecting to make triple the budget cuts in 2021, and that projection could surely get worse. Because over one million New York State residents are collecting unemployment insurance and isolating at home, the City and State won’t pull in the normal sales and income tax that is their lifeblood. Add to that the cost of unemployment benefits and health care expenses, and we can imagine the scale of future State and City deficits. You can be sure they will pull the plug on more than just our air conditioners.


4. Corporate vs. Public Bailouts
State and Local budgets need to be bailed out at the national level, where money grows on a tree called the Federal Reserve. This is where we as public sector employees need to pay attention and become advocates. You may think that all sectors of the economy, including public education, need to make sacrifices. But a lack of public sector services is precisely why our national response to this crisis has been a tremendous joke. We were always on the brink of disaster with no safety net, so big surprise that now our health care system is gruesomely overloaded, our state unemployment systems are as old as ATS and crashing, the US Postal Service is going bankrupt and won’t be able to deliver essential goods, government agencies will take months to pay people and small businesses their stimulus, and schools have an inequitable distribution of technology with no plan in place for remote learning. 


We want everyone to pay attention to the following numbers, as incomprehensibly large as they may be. Currently, the federal government and federal reserve have bailed out the corporate and public sectors by roughly the following amounts:
Corporate = $6 trillion

Public = less than $1 trillion
(See below if you’re wondering where I got these figures.)

You have to look at numbers like these and ask yourself — When this is all over, are corporations going to be better off than as if the Coronavirus never happened? And how much worse can future national emergencies end up looking? Will DOE staff be facing layoffs as billionaires collect huge bonuses in one year from now?

5. State and Local Bailouts in the 2nd CARES Act Stimulus Bill
Congress right now is hashing out the next iteration of the CARES Act stimulus bill. New York Senator Schumer called for $150 billion in State and City aid, which Republicans then blocked from the bill. I don’t know how law makers would have divided up that money exactly, but if you share it out proportionally, that would have been $4 billion going towards NYC alone, enough to have maybe staved off these cuts. The only elected politician in Congress refusing to endorse the bill is Alexandra Ocasio Cortez. Admirably, UFT President Michael Mulgrew is also taking the position that every dollar of State and City cuts must be bailed out by the federal government.


We’ll end by linking this ominous article shared with us explaining why teachers salaries ought to be frozen. Let’s not succumb to this way of thinking right now. 


Funding Statistics:

Corporate bailout: $4.5 trillion in Federal Reserve aid backed by $454 billion from Treasury, and another $1.5 trillion from the Fed.

State and local aid: $340 billion in Treasury aid, and $500 billion in Federal Reserve aid.

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