Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Detroit budget crises: Can the people really win?

The current Detroit budget crisis -- a three year projected short fall of $389 million -- is the worst since the early 1980s. Mayor Kilpatrick has sent layoff notices to 700 workers effective March 4. He has cut all non-union salaries 10%. He has eliminated nearly 250 unfilled positions. The decrepit bus system will be further crippled by route eliminations and reductions in service. He plans a second round of more service and jobs cuts, including closing the Belle Isle Aquarium. Announcing these actions in a televised address January 12 he said: “we have reached a dire moment in the history of our city. We have failed for decades to make tough decisions by spending millions as … tens of thousands of people were leaving the city.”

The Detroit Public School System has a budget shortfall of $200 million. The unelected, appointed board and its CEO, Kenneth Burnley, propose cutting 5,400 jobs and closing 40 schools. Projections point to closing nearly half the schools.

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