Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Far-reaching Fiscal Impact on Public Services

          The impact that financial frugality has on public services affects more than California alone. As the debate of financial security and loss of integral services for children and families wages on in California, other states are starting to feel what California has witnessed since 2007. To date, at least 20 states have imposed budget constraints on education. With the statistics showing fifty-two percent of states either actively implementing or proposing cutting essential services, students are being deprived of an essential education needed to supplement our economy.

          According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the decline in public services, specifically education, is not isolated to California. The reduction in services extends to higher education as well. As stated previously, fifty-two percent of states have reduced or planned to reduce K-12 educational services. This number is much greater at the College level. Sixty-four percent of states have implemented or are proposing reduction in services. Like K-12 education, California is not the only state to witness a reduction in educational services. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Arizona, Florida, and California seem to have been affected most.

• Arizona State University plans to address its loss of state funds by holding vacant or laying off 150 to 200 faculty associates, requiring employees to take off an average of three weeks without pay, boosting class size, and reducing enrollment in its nursing school by 5 percent to 10 percent. Tuition in Arizona this year rose 9.5 percent in response to funding cuts.

• In Florida, university budgets and community college funding were cut. The University of Florida has announced it will eliminate 430 faculty and staff positions and decrease funding for disability services, financial aid services and internship opportunities. Student enrollment is declining by more than 1,000 students at both Florida State University and the University of Florida. The legislature approved a statewide tuition increase for the current academic year of 6 percent; the University of Florida increased tuition for in-state undergraduates by 15 percent.

• California is raising in-state tuition for 2009-10 by 7.4 percent to 10 percent as part of its October budget deal, and in December, the governor called for additional tuition increases of 9 to 13 percent for some institutions.

          Much like college institutions, the same projected cuts are affecting the K-12 institution. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, California, Massachusetts, and Nevada are being hit the hardest.

• California is reducing basic K-12 education aid to local school districts. It also is cutting a variety of other programs, such as adult literacy instruction. For Fiscal Year 2009-10 California’s governor has proposed delaying payments to school districts, allowing school districts to shorten the school year by up to five days, and reducing funding for some grants and programs aimed at helping high needs students.

• Massachusetts enacted cuts to Head Start, universal pre-kindergarten programs, and early intervention services to help special-need children develop appropriately and be ready for school. Funding for K-12 has also been reduced, including spending for mentoring, teacher training, reimbursements for special education residential schools, services for disabled students, and programs for gifted and talented students.

• In Nevada, the governor has ordered various cuts to K-12 education, including delaying an all-day kindergarten expansion, cutting per pupil expenditures by $400 in a pilot program, eliminating funds for gifted and talented programs, eliminating funds for a magnet program for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, and making across-the-board cuts. Additionally, young children with developmental delays will lose more than 15,000 hours of needed services.

As a constituent of any state can see, the services provided by these states are an irreplaceable benefit to the children and families to which they serve. As I have shown, the crisis that California is facing is not an isolated issue, but rather a nationwide epidemic that needs to be addressed.

         To address the crisis that this nation is facing, we will have to make sacrifices to areas that are not impacted by the budget, and increase our monetary intake. The United States has the highest global GDP, the strongest military, and is the wealthiest country in regards to citizen wealth. To address our deficit, a simple theory would need to be implemented. To reduce any debt, one must intake more than is spent. To address our deficit, our GDP, the highest in the world, needs to increase. This increase in revenue will allow the “bottom line” of this country to skyrocket. To allow further revenue, the United States needs to increase taxation on individual and corporation profits. This is a sticky situation that may force even more outsourcing but is a requirement to addressing our crisis. Our government needs to develop strategic measures to retain large businesses, while still taxing the large corporations to generate revenue. To reduce our expenditures, the United States can afford to reduce the capacity of its military. An improvement in transparency will decrease unnecessary spending. As a nation, we simply cannot afford to pay ten thousand dollars for a hammer, or $180 million on a plane that will be outdated by the time it is built. A dramatic reduction in military spending, an increase in GDP, and a stiff taxation on the wealthy will point this country in the right direction toward a resolution regarding our fiscal crises. We need a resolution for this fiscal impact on public services in order to continue as a nation.


Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: