Report shows Detroit crisis is about revenue, not spending

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A new Demos report reveals what the people living and working in Detroit know well: The bankruptcy in Detroit was caused by a severe decline in revenue and risky Wall Street deals, AFT president Randi Weingarten says.

"It isn't about spending and pensions, it's about revenue," she says. "This week, the Dow Jones industrial average passed 16,000, yet public sector retirees still take home an average of only $12,000 a year. Again, we see that public employees and their deferred wages aren't the problem; Wall Street speculation coupled with the loss of manufacturing is.

"Instead of coming together as a community to find solutions to raise revenue and make Detroit an attractive place to live and work, politicians decided to pin the blame on public employees and retirees, who did not create the crisis. Meanwhile, labor unions are joining together with community partners and federal officials to develop plans and infuse federal and private investments that will ultimately revitalize Detroit.

"By placing Detroit public schools at the center of neighborhood revitalization efforts, we can forge new relationships among schools, families, communities and the city. Teachers and school workers have made great sacrifices to keep the Detroit schools afloat, while working extraordinarily hard to nurture Detroit's next generation. And their work was acknowledged just this week when the Michigan Department of Education announced that it had removed the high-risk designation from Detroit schools. Progress like this is thanks to teachers and public employees, who are committed to reviving the community they love."

The Demos report is available online.

[AFT press release]