February 17, 2010
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On the First Anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
WASHINGTON—The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, enacted one year ago, has indisputably been a life preserver that helped reduce the harmful impact of the recession on the most vulnerable people in our society.
The ARRA created and saved jobs; helped states avoid draconian cuts in higher education, healthcare and other vital services; and preserved core education programs for students. While a state budget crisis can be little more than an inconvenience to many adults, it can have a devastating effect on students, especially those whose families have been hit hardest by the recession. Kids don’t get a second chance to get a good education. The Recovery Act was the help they needed, ensuring that schools continued to receive resources so that teachers could teach and students learn.
With ARRA funds winding down, states face additional budget gaps of $180 billion next year. Massive state budget cuts could threaten all the good work that ARRA has done. We greatly appreciate the U.S. House of Representatives’ efforts to protect vital public services by extending ARRA’s support for states.
Difficult economic times demand bold action, and, working together last year, Congress and the White House took just such action by investing in the foundations of our country’s strength—jobs, education and healthcare. Today’s one-year anniversary is a reminder that good government policies can have a positive and measurable effect on America’s families.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.