How Cities’ Funding Woes Are Driving Racial and Economic Injustice—And What We Can Do About It

Source: Brad Lander and Karl Kumodzi, The Nation, April 28, 2015

It doesn’t stop with Ferguson—common underlying problems create conflict and tension across the country… These cities are like Ferguson because of a common underlying problem: All across America, cities and towns are struggling to maintain enough revenue to provide crucial services to residents. The collateral damage of this revenue crisis—over-criminalization, utility shut-offs, the withdrawal of public services, and slashed budgets for schools—is dire. …. In 2008, the Great Recession caused the municipal revenue crisis that had been brewing for decades to explode, spurring significant and rapid declines in general fund revenues for municipalities. In order to deal with the impacts of this dramatic shortfall, cities were forced to cut personnel, cancel capital projects (and their much-needed jobs), and slash funding for education, parks, libraries, sanitation, and more. These cuts hit low-income families the hardest. And they are especially harmful to Black families because African-Americans are 30 percent more likely to be employed by the public sector than other workers. ….