If Congress doesn’t take action by Friday, a set of automatic, meat-ax federal spending cuts will take effect that day. This policy of “sequestration,” as it is known, would affect not just the federal budget but the state budget as well, because Texas state government depends quite heavily on funding from the federal government. At a Texas House hearing this morning, we learned that sequestration would cost Texas more than $330 million this year.
The cuts actually would primarily affect the 2013-2014 school year. That’s because the two big programs that would take almost all of the hit—Title I aid for the economically disadvantaged and IDEA for students with disabilities—are “forward-funded,” meaning that a cut in federal funding on March 1 will affect the next school year, not the current school year. The Texas Legislative Budget Board today said Texas education programs stand to lose $170.6 million in the 2013-2014 school year based on the federal cuts slated to take effect March 1. The LBB based its analysis on an estimated 5.3-percent cut in programs covered by sequestration. According to the White House, the looming cuts would imperil more than 1,500 jobs of teachers, aides, and other staff, depriving 280 Texas schools and 172,000 students of federal funding.
This so-called “sequester” also would cut other programs such as Head Start and health-care programs for children, among many other federal responsibilities that would be shirked.
Please take a moment when you read this Hotline to send a message to stop these cuts to your representatives in the U.S. House and Senate. You can send them a letter via the American Federation of Teachers Web site. Just plug in your ZIP Code and your message will be directed to the lawmakers who represent your area. Please take action now to avert the sequestration folly scheduled to begin on Friday!