Examining the Impact of Municipal Budget Cuts

Reporting in <em>The New York Times</em>, Michael Cooper examines the ways in which severe municipal budget cuts are impacting cities across the country through the lens of San Jose, which has lost more than a fifth of its employees over four years.
February 21, 2012, 12pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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According to Cooper, "the nation has lost 668,000 state and local government jobs since the recession hit - more than in any modern downturn, according to a new analysis of labor statistics by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government." And these job loses are not just effecting faded industrial cities.

Even in San Jose, the epicenter of the booming technology industry, the combination of falling tax revenues, rising pension costs and dwindling state aid are having enormous impacts on the services that the city can provide its residents and on the lives of its former employees. New government buildings remain unoccupied, branch libraries are open only four days a week, and the Police Department has shrunk by a fifth.

In a poignant allegory, Cooper reports that, "after the police unit in charge of gang violence was merged last year with a unit that focused on quality-of-life issues, street-level drug dealing and prostitution, a spate of gang-related murders occurred in the city, which remains one of the safest of its size in America. The smaller unit was ordered to focus on gangs. Then there was an increase in prostitution."

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Published on Saturday, February 18, 2012 in The New York Times
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