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AltAusterity Digest #97 May 2-8, 2019

This week in Austerity News:

May 10, 2019

The Ontario Conservative government of Doug Ford is considering a public sector wage cap. The cap would be imposed on hundreds of thousands of workers in Ontario including what would be considered the broader public sector, or the para-public sector. This will include workers employed by school boards, colleges, universities, and hospitals. Several union leaders believe the Ford government will table to pay cap bill in late May or early June. Over the past five years, average wage settlements in the public sector have been lower than settlements in the private sector.

Over the last generation the federal deficit has always spiked when Republicans are in power. However, as soon as they’re out of power, they demand that the Democrats cut the deficit, and paint tax-and-spend policies as wasteful. Despite this fact, the Democrats continue to play the deficit game by trying to appease Republicans with spending cuts and deficit reductions. Alex Shephard, writing for The New Republic, discusses how in the 2020 election, the Democrats will have to craft new language and policies around the deficit. Short of winning the presidency and both houses with anti-establishment Democrats in key positions, proposals like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All will be extremely unlikely unless the narrative and hypocrisy around the deficit changes.

Local elections in England have seen the Conservatives lose more than 1,300 councillors. Labour also lost 82 seats in the English local elections, while the pro-EU Liberal Democrats gained 703 seats. Other winners were the Green Party which added 194 councillors, and independent councillors who gained 612 seats. Despite these large swings, projections of the national vote share put Labour and the Conservatives at 28%. The massive losses for the Conservatives are thought to be a product of the Brexit debacle and the years of continuous austerity.

Some of the latest cuts to state schools in the UK have undermined those schools’ ability to provide extra-curricular activities such as drama, music, and field trips to cultural locations. Schools have been a primary site of cutbacks under the current Tory government with “non-core” functions often being the first to go. Cuts have also included speech and language support, funding the building maintenance and certain school supplies. The cuts have also required senior staff to take on more responsibilities due to understaffing, including managing housing concerns and planning out school meals.

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation.