As the Senate hearing about sequestration on Wednesday (July 25, 2012) approaches, 3,000 organizations, including the International Reading Association (IRA), signed a letter to Congress supporting the bipartisan agreement that sequestration would be devastating to the nation. IRA Director of Government Relations Richard Long reports that the letter points out that the undersigned national, state, and local organizations—representing the hundreds of millions of Americans who support and benefit from nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs—strongly urge a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to NDD programs, which have already done their part to reduce the deficit. Explaining that NDD programs are not the reason behind our growing debt, the letter cites percentages of cuts to NDD programs over the past few fiscal years. The full letter is available on the Coalition for Public Health website.
The Impact of Sequestration
A July 20 memo from Anthony W. Miller, Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Education, states that “last November, the Joint Committee announced that it could not reach agreement on a deficit reduction plan. This failure triggered enforcement via automatic funding cuts, called sequestration, for fiscal year 2013, unless Congress prevents this from taking place by sending the President a balanced deficit reduction plan that does away with sequestration before it goes into effect on January 2, 2013.”
The memo continues “The 2012 advance appropriations become available in October 2012 for school year 2012-13. The 2013 regular appropriations become available in July 2013 for school year 2013-14. Most of the funds in the four accounts with advance appropriations—Education for the Disadvantaged (Title I, ESEA), School Improvement Programs (Title II, ESEA), Special Education (IDEA Part B), and Career, Technical, and Adult Education—get distributed by formula to States and then to local school districts or other entities. If Congress does not act to avoid sequestration, and assuming the 2013 appropriations for these four accounts are structured similarly to past appropriations (which they are under the pending House and Senate appropriations bills), the Department will take the sequester from funds that would become available in July 2013 for school year 2013-14, not from the 2012 advance appropriations available in October 2012.”
While Miller states that “most of the harm from the sequestration would not be felt in education programs until the 2013-14 school year, the damage from across-the-board cuts in that year would be severe,” he adds that “the potential for sequestration should not upset planning and hiring decisions for the immediately upcoming 2012-13 school year.” He explains that federal funds have already been appropriated and will be provided for this school year, through grants made in July 2012 and advance funds that will be obligated in October 2012.
Senate Hearing on Sequestration
There is a hearing on the impact of sequestration in the Senate on Wednesday that the general public can listen to via C-SPAN’s Capitol Hearings website. The pending January 2, 2013 sequestration will cut on average 9% from the Title I funding school districts are getting—about one-half the districts say that they have no information on the pending sequestration. The Senate Subcommittee on Appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education will be holding a hearing on the impact of sequestration on education. This hearing was requested by the Committee for Education Funding in a letter to the chairman early this month.
This hearing will have the following witnesses:
The Honorable Arne Duncan
Secretary United States Department of Education
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Raleigh, North Carolina
Randolph Field Independent School District
University City, Texas
Neal P. McCluskey
Center for Educational Freedom
The Cato Institute
President and CEO
The Campagna Center
The Coalition for Public Health website has FAQs, videos, and more materials about sequestration.