While twenty-eight members of Congress fast to oppose the federal budget cuts, local lawmakers in New York have also joined the anti-austerity fever sweeping the country. Today, representatives plan to gather in order to protest the spending cuts approved in Friday night’s eleventh-hour budget deal. Some of the programs at risk of losing funding include community development grants for low- and moderate-income families, the Workforce Investment Act (which provides job training) and Head Start, the program that offers free childcare.
When New York lawmakers rushed to finalize the state budget on time, they ultimately slashed New York City school aid by hundreds of millions ($271 million to be exact), though Mayor Bloomberg’s administration says the cuts may end up being much deeper.
In order to prepare for the inevitable backlash from teachers’ unions and furious parents, security was tightened at the Capitol, complete with an increased presence of “taser-toting state troopers.”
On Saturday, thousands of city resident came out to support workers’ rights in Time Square. The rally, organized by the New York City Central Labor Council, was in response to Governor Cuomo’s radical budget cuts. The state’s austerity plan could result in as many as 75,000 public-sector jobs being cut.
In Phoenix, protesters gathered to oppose Arizona’s cuts to education and healthcare. The Arizona Children’s Action Alliance and the Arizona Parent Teacher Association believe the state budget is being balanced at the expense of society’s most vulnerable. In order to balance Arizona’s budget, 138,000 people will be denied state medical coverage, and three state universities will double their tuitions, pricing many students out of an education. When compared with other states, Arizona’s funding for education was already subpar, but following this year’s $150 million cut, the state is sure to secure a bottom rung.
Teachers, students, and education advocates also rallied to protest Nevada’s education cuts. Governor Brian Sandoval proposed cuts to K-12 education that are described as “by far the largest in modern history” by the economics research firm Applied Analysis. Sandoval has proposed a whopping 20 percent cuts to education, which might include closing entire campuses, restricting access for Nevada’s undereducated citizenry and laying off staff. What immediately erupted following the announced budget was one of the largest demonstrations in Carson City’s history.
As the Las Vegas Sun points out, two-thirds of the sixty-three legislators have earned four-year degrees. Additionally, Nevada’s 13.6 percent unemployment rate is well above the national average of 8.8 percent. Lawmakers sabotage citizens with education cuts while failing to invest adequately in jobs programs. Underfunding and a lack of opportunity literally give the underprivileged nowhere to go, while the ruling elite, who enjoy careers that are the fruit of university educations, catalyze the majority’s destruction. Of course, if things get out of hand, there’s always the option of tasering the miffed masses.