Metro’s 2018 Revenue Crisis Asks Public Employees and Schools to Pay the Price for Bad Economic Decisions Made Over the Past Decade!
Despite unparalleled growth and prosperity, Nashville faces a revenue shortfall which threatens funding for city employee raises and millions of dollars that are desperately needed for our public schools.
A decade of corporate welfare, massive capital projects that haven’t lived up to the hype, interference by the state legislature, and a culture of putting business interests instead of the people’s interests have brought Nashville to the brink. It is time for elected officials to do the right thing and find a way to fix these problems that don’t force public employees and retirees to pay the price.
What You Can Do … Call or Write to a Metro Council Member!
Click to CALL or EMAIL a Metro Council member about this year’s budget.
We encourage you to tell your own personal story about what it means to be denied a raise or the impact these cuts will have on our children, but if you prefer another message, try one of these by copying & pasting into your email text or by leaving a voicemail…
- Nashville’s a “boomtown”, but only for the wealthy and they don’t need our help. It’s no secret that many of us are being priced out of our homes by this “boom” and a study by the Economic Policy Institute found that a family of four needs to earn about $80,000 to live in Nashville today. Not giving us a raise makes us fall behind even more and could force hard-working people to move out of the county. That just makes our revenue problems worse and does not respect the sacrifices that working families have been making for the city all these years.
- The city’s first obligation is to its citizens and city services – not to corporate special interests. We’ve spent 10 years and tens of millions of dollars on downtown and big projects like the Convention Center and now a soccer stadium and it has gotten us debt and gridlock. Now we are facing cuts to schools and city services. It’s time to tell big business and the Chamber of Commerce that the store is closed until our city can get its finances right.
- We have a revenue problem because some large companies and developers in Nashville are not paying their fair share. Reports in the local papers show that in the recent property assessment, it was large multi-million dollar properties like Opry Mills Mall and others who got about 80% of the tax breaks in the reappraisal. These companies and developers are hiring high-priced lawyers and accountants to find tax loopholes for them while the rest of us see our own property taxes and rents going up. The city needs to aggressively go after these property owners and get back as much of that revenue as possible – especially the companies that already got a tax break by being in a “development district” and are essentially double-dipping so they don’t have to pay taxes like the rest of us do.
Here’s a look at the impact on the mayor’s budget proposal and how we got here:
The Administration’s proposal underfunds our public schools and leaves our children behind.
- The proposed budget allocation for Metro Schools required the district to cut $17 million from their current budget. All together, MNPS is about $44 million short of what the district needs.
- The proposal will deny any pay increase for over 9,000 teachers and school support staff including secretaries, paraprofessionals, cafeteria staff, maintenance staff, and others who are on the front lines. They make the schools run every day so the children can learn.
- In order to survive on the $5 million allocation, the district must cut new programs for children.
The proposal would deny cost-of-living adjustments (“COLA”) by changing the Metro Government pay plan which was passed by the Council last year. It provides no wage increases for about 2,000 employees, or approximately 20% of the city workforce.
- The new Metro pay plan was the result of a multi-year effort between Metro and stakeholders including the unions, the Civil Service Commission, and other policy makers. It was designed to fix structural problems with the pay charts, to modernize job classifications, and to make Metro more competitive as an employer.
- The pay plan was passed by the Civil Service Commission and then approved by resolution of the Metro Council last year. It is already law. Just recently, the Civil Service Commission voted to keep this year’s pay plan intact.
- During the Great Recession and the flood, Metro employees sacrificed raises of between 3-14% so that Nashville could recover economically. They will not see that money again and this pay plan was intended to prevent them from falling even further behind. Now, we are in a period of growth and prosperity and they are being asked again to make a sacrifice for something that isn’t their fault. That is unfair and does not represent Nashville’s values.
The mayor’s budget proposal does not reflect the best of Nashville’s values. It is regressive and it threatens prosperity for all while still leaving intact a culture of corporate welfare.
- The budget forces cuts to employee pay which are regressive. This also means they have less money in their pockets and are not generating economic activity.
- In MNPS, over 4,000 support employees in the schools will not get raises this year. Many if not most of them have to take a second job in order to make ends meet.
- Many of the Metro Government employees who won’t get a COLA are preparing to retire, which would hurt the retirement benefits that they’ve earned. They’ve already lost value because of the pay freezes from 2009-2013.
It is wrong for city employees and our schools to be asked to pay the price for bad tax increment financing (TIF) corporate welfare schemes that have unnecessarily given up revenue.
- TIF and PILOT deals give tax breaks to large companies who rarely deliver on their promises or pay for themselves. If companies are required to create a certain number of jobs to be eligible, what are the consequences if they don’t?
- TIF’s are supposed to be for “blighted” neighborhoods and “development districts”, but media reports continue to show large multimillion dollar companies and affluent areas like the Gulch being a large beneficiary of these types of deals.
- During the recent property tax appraisal, the largest amount of dollars returned on appeal was to large developers and corporations, not homeowners. Once again, a well-intended system has been gamed by corporate greed.
RECENT NEWS CLIPS
As the budget debate has ramped up this summer, SEIU members have been in the trenches. We’ve been calling, emailing, and meeting with our elected representatives and have turned out in several large actions along with our community allies and other labor unions. Take a look at some of the recent stories in the headlines —
- Teachers, Unions… Nashvillians Sound Off On Budget Woes (Tennessean, 6/5/18)
- Metro Council Members Hear Public Comment In Budget Proposal (Newschannel 5, 6/5/18)
- Groups Beg Metro Council… To Fund Raises For Teachers And City Employees (NPR, 6/5/18)
WE CAN’T WIN IF WE DON’T FIGHT!! WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER!