WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), and Mark Begich (D-AK) introduced legislation today that would maintain critical public services and jobs. The Local Jobs for America Act would prevent planned cuts and hire back critical public safety, education and service workers who have been laid-off because of tight budgets. The bill comes just days after President Obama wrote to Congressional Leaders urging Congress to approve nearly $50 billion in emergency aid to state and local governments.
"Cities and municipalities are faced with a terrible dilemma: how to balance budgets while providing critical public services. While we are seeing the economy slowly recover, local communities cannot afford to do without essential services and further job loss threatens the fragile economic progress we've made," Sen. Brown said. "Continued unemployment leads to steep declines in revenue and adds to our deficit. The Local Jobs for America Act would help cities and municipalities save or create jobs even as they face budget crises. Recession at the local level is an aftershock of the federal economic crisis that can set back the clock on state and federal economic recovery. This legislation addresses that reality and is aimed at putting people back to work and turning them into tax-payers rather than benefit collectors."
"Minnesota needs jobs. And Washington needs to be serious about job creation if we're going to grow our way out of the recession. Putting folks back to work is the most critical part of our economic recovery," Sen. Franken said. The Local Jobs for America Act will create the opportunity for long-term employment that so many families across the country are waiting for."
"As a former mayor, I understand the critical need to keep our first responders and teachers on the job," Sen. Begich said. "In Alaska, the number of police officers, firefighters and teachers has been reduced in some communities, and I am pleased to support legislation that will provide the means to put more police on the streets, firefighters on the front line, teachers in the classroom, and preserve critical public services these workers provide."
The Local Jobs for America Act would authorize $75 billion in temporary funds over the next two years to local communities. The legislation would allocate grants directly to eligible local communities and nonprofit community organizations to retain services and create new jobs. 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 help support 300,000 education jobs, 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.
According to an analysis released in April 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.
Last week, Policy Matters Ohio released a report that said the Local Jobs for America Act would provide a necessary bridge to maintain community economies as the foundation for stable economic progress at the state and federal levels.
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.
Earlier this month Sen. Brown was joined by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic at a rally in Cleveland in an effort to maintain critical public services and jobs. Along with Jackson and Plusquellic, the legislation is also endorsed by the United States Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities.
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).