What is Sequestration?: Deadline Looms, Cuts Could Hit Minnesota Education Programs

Minnesota's Congressional delegation has weighed in on the series of cuts that could hit the country March 1. The rollbacks would hit everything from education to senior care, the White House states.

If a deal isn’t struck by Friday between President Obama and Congress, a sequester will begin that will auto-start a series of mandated federal budget cuts that would quickly be felt across the Midwest.

Here’s a sample of what’s at risk:

Hundreds of teaching jobs. Thousands of children dropped from early childhood education. Elimination of work-study jobs that support thousands of low-income college students getting a degree. The loss of childcare for thousands of disadvantaged kids. Furloughs for thousands of civilian Defense Department employees.

Congresswoman Betty McCullom, a Democrat representing Minnesota's Fourth District, released this statement via spokesperson to the Minneapolis Star Tribune earlier this month

“I voted against the Budget Control Act in part because the prospect of sequestration is so harmful to programs that help communities, families and the economy. I support a balanced approach to deficit reduction — smart spending cuts, eliminating over generous tax expenditures, and increased revenues through targeted tax increases. But if the only choice is between sequestration or an alternative that protects defense spending by extracting even deeper cuts in domestic programs, which many Republicans are advocating, then I want defense cut dollar for dollar with domestic discretionary spending.”

Here's what Stillwater's former representative, Michele Bachmann had to say:

“I voted against the Budget Control Act and opposed the concept of arbitrary, ill-thought-out sequestration cuts from the beginning. The House has already passed two pieces of legislation to replace sequestration, both of which I supported. We should be focused on getting to a stable, growing economy where wages expand and the cost of daily items like groceries and gas go down.  People's lives have been hurt by low wages and higher prices because the government continues to spend a greater and greater share of the money we earn.

When government takes even more of what we make, then we get to keep a lot less of what we earn, and sadly, that isn't increasing wages or bringing down the basic costs of living for most people. To solve our economic problems, we could choose to (1) grow our economy, (2) get our spending in line with our income, or (3) dramatically increase everyone's taxes. I'm voting for our kids, our seniors, and our families—that's why I'm voting to grow our economy and to get our spending in line with our income.”

The scope of the sequester, a plan to trim the budget by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, was mandated as part of a 2011 law. If a deal isn’t reached by Friday, $85 billion in cuts will sweep across federal agencies between March and September. The sequester includes cuts of 8 percent to the Pentagon budget and 5 percent to domestic agency operating budgets.

Nationally, here’s what a Time report suggests will happen if the sequester begins:

Picture air travel snarled. Meat inspections curtailed. National security imperiled. Seventy thousand children booted from Head Start programs, 10,000 teaching jobs jeopardized, disability payments delayed, aid withheld from needy Americans and foreign governments perched on the brink of chaos. Hundreds of thousands of jobs could be lost, and the fragile economy knocked into a tailspin.

The White House released fact sheets for each state detailing the impact of the sequester.

Teachers and Schools:

  • Minnesota will lose about $7 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 100 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 8,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 40 fewer schools would receive funding.

Education for Children with Disabilities:

  • Minnesota will lose approximately $9.2 million in funds for about 110 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.

Work-Study Jobs:

  • Minnesota: Around 920 fewer low income students in Minnesota would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 500 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.

Head Start:

  • Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 700 children in Minnesota, reducing access to critical early education.

Protections for Clean Air and Clean Water:

  • Minnesota would lose about $3 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. In addition, Minnesota could lose another $1.6 million in grants for fish and wildlife protection.

Military Readiness: 

 In Minnesota, approximately 2,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $12.5 million in total.

  • Army: Base operation funding would be cut by about $2.5 million in Minnesota.
  • Navy: A scheduled Blue Angels show in St. Cloud could be canceled.

Law Enforcement and Public Safety Funds for Crime Prevention and Prosecution:

  • Minnesota will lose about $201,000 in Justice Assistance Grants that support law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.

Job Search Assistance:

  • Minnesota will lose about $689,000 in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement, meaning around 23,270 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment.

Child Care:

  • Minnesota: Up to 500 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care, which is also essential for working parents to hold down a job.

Vaccines for Children:

  • In Minnesota about 2,360 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B due to reduced funding for vaccinations of about $161,000.

Public Health:

  • Minnesota will lose approximately $507,000 in funds to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. In addition, Minnesota will lose about $1.2 million in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 1,700 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And the Minnesota Department of Health will lose about $127,000 resulting in around 3,200 fewer HIV tests.

STOP Violence Against Women Program:

  • Minnesota could lose up to $113,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 400 fewer victims being served.

Nutrition Assistance for Seniors:

  • Minnesota would lose approximately $845,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors.
Richard Hernandez February 27, 2013 at 01:59 AM
There are alot of important things MN may lose in the events this goes through, But there are plenty of things we could do without as well. It's time to treat the government like our households. If we don't have the money it's time cut some services. Time for Americans to pick up the slack and stop pretending the jokers in DC are saving us, they will be the end of our our country if we let them spend money we don't have
Markus February 27, 2013 at 03:55 AM
Meat inspections curtailed and a scheduled Blue Angels show in St. Cloud could be cancelled. Where will these cuts end?! Wow, this is pretty dire. What will we possibly do with meat inspections being curtailed and seventy thousand children BOOTED from Head Start? This story is so typical of lazy biased pseudo-journalism. Why not do a story on how the aforementioned "cuts" aren't really cuts at all but less of an increase? Any person with critical thinking skills that can read a graph can understand the ruse the politicians and the more than willing media cheerleaders are trying to pull on the American public. Too bad critical thinking is not taught in the government schools. This non-crisis like the so-called "fiscal cliff" is merely a diversion from the truth which you'll never hear from Washington or St. Paul. The truth is the "fact" sheet detailing the impact of the sequester is full of scare tactics and outright lies from the White House. But that's nothing new.
yomammy February 27, 2013 at 01:03 PM
I for one would miss the blue angels.... :)


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