CLEVELAND, OH - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Mayor Frank Jackson joined Cleveland-area firefighters, police officers, and public service workers for a rally on Wednesday in an effort to maintain critical public services and jobs. Brown was also joined by Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic and Wendy Patton of Policy Matters Ohio.
"Layoffs mean a reduction in critical services, and a reduction in tax revenue," said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), in announcing his plans to introduce the Local Jobs for America Act. "It's critical that we prevent further economic hardship by ensuring that local communities have the resources they need to maintain services and prevent lay-offs."
"The bottom line for cities like Cleveland is to be able to continue to provide high quality service to our citizens and our neighborhoods," said Mayor Frank G. Jackson. "Senator Brown understands this need and I applaud his efforts to help provide Cleveland and communities across America with much needed support during these tough economic times."
"There's no mayor anywhere who likes cutting police and fire jobs. But safety forces comprise 70-80% of any city's operating budget. When our revenue is down - as it is in most cities - after cuts are made everywhere else, a Mayor has to cut back police and fire, because there is nowhere else to cut," said Mayor Don Plusquellic. "I appreciate Senator Brown's recognition that our metropolitan economies drive the economy of the entire state."
Brown announced the Senate introduction of the Local Jobs for America Act, legislation that would authorize $75 billion in temporary funds over the next two years to local communities. The bill is aimed at preventing planned cuts and hiring back critical public safety and service workers who have been laid-off because of tight budgets. Under the proposed legislation, grants would go directly to eligible local communities and nonprofit community organizations to decide how best to use the funds. It is estimated that the bill would create or save up to a million jobs quickly in both the public and private sectors and help restore access to vital services on which families rely.
The legislation would also provide $24 billion to states to put 5,500 law enforcement officers on the beat and retain, rehire, and hire firefighters. The bill would also fund approximately 50,000 additional private-sector on-the-job training positions to enable workers to acquire core job skills and to help local businesses put people back to work.
"Maintaining services and employment in our communities is critical to prevent a second downward spiral," said Wendy Patton. "The Local Jobs for America Act provides a necessary bridge to maintain our communities as our economy is stabilized."
"The nation's mayors are pleased to partner with Senator Sherrod Brown to push this legislation. We deal face-to-face with unemployed citizens everyday because we see them everywhere -- in coffee shops, grocery stores, beauty salons and barber shops. And they all tell us the same thing -- all they want is a good, dependable job so they can support their families," said Burnsville, Minnesota Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, President of The United States Conference of Mayors. "Mayors know from experience that investment in metropolitan economies with direct funding to cities can create and save jobs and can do it quickly."
Companion legislation, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), has more than 160 cosponsors, including U.S. Representatives Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Marcy Kaptur (OH-9), Dennis J. Kucinich (OH-10), Tim Ryan (OH-17), Zachary T. Space (OH-18), Betty Sutton (OH-13), and Charles A. Wilson (OH-6).
According to an analysis released last week by the Economic Policy Institute, tight budgets as the result of the recession could cause local communities to lay off another 225,000 workers beginning this summer, threatening to undercut the recovery.
"This massive job loss will harm far more than the public servants who face unemployment. For one, our communities will be deprived of the vital services they deliver. Schools would see larger classes sizes, our homes would be less protected from fire, and our streets would become less safe," the EPI analysis said.
Since the recession began, an estimated half-million Americans have lost their jobs in local communities because of tight budgets. EPI estimates that by 2012, more than 400,000 jobs would have to be restored just to return local government services to pre-recession levels.
Cuts to public jobs also reduce employment significantly in the private sector. EPI estimated that for every 100 public-sector workers laid off, 30 private sector workers are let go because of the reduction in consumer spending in the local economy.
Last month, EPI found that the total cost of the Local Jobs for America Act would be offset by $39 billion because it would keep taxpayers on payrolls and reduce spending on unemployment and other social safety net benefits.