By Michael Lipsky and Ed Sivak

Presently, the work environments of our state and local public service workers are being crippled by the fiscal crisis in the states. Legislatures around the country face gaps of $260 billion in the next two fiscal years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In Mississippi, we estimate a shortfall of over $500 million over each of the next two budget cycles in relation to needs.

For the public workforce, this fiscal crisis threatens functions critical to our communities’ sense of well-being, as well as the economic status of our workforce. County governments have laid-off workers, and state employees have been asked to accept unpaid furloughs and increase their contribution to their retirement funds. Critical positions will remain unfilled, and caseloads will increase. Once again state and local workers will be asked to do more with less.

In Mississippi, 226,000 people work in state, county and municipal governments, part of a workforce of 15 million in these sectors around the country.

The enduring value of the state and local public service was recently dramatized in the aftermath of the tornadoes that swept through Mississippi this spring.

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