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Even though the economy is in recovery, most government budgets for the new fiscal year required cutbacks to public services.  It was no longer possible to try making ends meet with hiring freezes, deferred maintenance or moving funds from one department to another.

The alternative to reducing budgets is increasing tax revenues.  Most people feel it isn't a good option during a recession and shaky recovery.  Instead governments had to scrutinize their budgets for ways to reduce expenses with the least amount of pain for all residents.

The budget problems brought overgenerous government pensions and benefits to light and hopefully, reform.  It also results in reduction in services provide to citizens.  Here's a list of common cutbacks you might experience.

Library Access

Since the recession started, libraries have been a resource for inexpensive to free CDs, DVDs, computers and of course, books.  It is ironic that libraries across the country have been fighting for budget dollars when their services are experiencing high utilization.

A neighboring city to me has closed it's only branch location resulting in one library to serve over 140,000 people.  Fortunately, my city council overruled the mayor's proposed budget cutback of library hours to 2-3 days of service a week.


Local, state and federal parks have all experienced budget cuts.  Oklahoma has shut down seven state parks while California is slotted to close 70 state parks after already severely cutting back hours and services for 60 parks over the past two years.

The result will be increased costs when (and if) these parks are reopened for repairs as well as public safety concerns.  Unsupervised parks will now become attractive to transients and those with criminal intent.


Detroit is planning to shut down 70 schools this year on top of 59 that were already closed last year.  California issued over 19,000 pink slips to teachers this Spring and 30,000 last year.

Many of the teachers will keep their jobs due to turnover, retirements and reduced budget cuts.  However, the number of kids in our school system is not being reduced by the same margin.  The result could be larger classroom sizes, fewer classroom aides, fewer activities and/or supplies.

Government Offices

My local DMV office became much more crowded after the state instituted furlough days in 2009 to save money.  All state offices were closed every other Friday.  The impact was not only difficult for the employees who lost income, but the residents dealing with reduced access and busier locations on non-furlough days.

Other states and cities also instituted furlough days or reduced hours.  This keeps people from being able to access services, pay bills and get help at their convenience.  It can lead to lost productivity as workers have to take time off to handle business because evening hours were eliminated.

Have you experienced any cutbacks in public services?

Photo Credit: James Bowe


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6 comments add your comment

  1. I forgot about that. My son’s registration is due July 5th but he can’t pay it and being out of state he’s worried about getting pulled over. The good news is that the fees are going down.

  2. Robert – I can’t even get my renewed license in the mail! Crazy!

    The gov’t also cut several KEY downtown SF bus lines. Ridiculous!

  3. Aarrgh! Drives me nuts when the government makes highly publicized cuts to to the service that the people enjoy the most, or actually need, like the DMV. From Wikipedia: Washington Monument Syndrome, also called the “Mount Rushmore Syndrome”,[1] is the name of a political tactic allegedly used by government agencies when faced with reductions in the rate of projected increases in budget or actual budget cuts. The most visible and most appreciated service that is provided by that entity is the first to be put on the chopping block

  4. a couple of years ago, when my state was in a huge budget crisis, they proposed to close all public libraries on the weekends. people lost their minds! needless to say, the proposal didn’t pass and instead, there are rolling closures. each library takes a turn being closed on one day (my library is closed on thursdays), and there are reduced hours on the weekends. it’s annoying but i’ve learned to live with it. it’s better than having them closed completely!