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How the ‘Sequester’ Will Impact Pennsylvania

Is the sequester the right approach to cutting spending?

A series of federal budget cuts, more commonly known as the "sequester,’ will automatically kick in on tomorrow; these cuts are the result of the "fiscal cliff" crisis last year.

While the focus in the media will likely be the political blame game between Congress and the president, state and local governments will have to look past the politics and examine what the impact of the sequester will actually be.

Is the sequester the right approach to cutting spending? Everyone has their own opinion, but I thought it might be helpful to look at some of the actual cuts we will be facing in Pennsylvania come March 1. These numbers reflect the cuts for 2013 only—the number obviously gets larger if the cuts stay in effect longer.

  • Pennsylvania will lose approximately $26.4 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 360 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition, about 29,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 90 fewer schools would receive funding. In addition, Pennsylvania will lose approximately $21.4 million for about 260 teachers, aides and staff who help children with disabilities.
  • Around 3,160 fewer low-income students in Pennsylvania would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 2,290 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.
  • Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 2,300 children in Pennsylvania.
  • Pennsylvania would lose about $5.7 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. In addition, Pennsylvania could lose another $1,448,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.
  • Pennsylvania will lose about $509,000 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.
  • Approximately 26,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $150.1 million in total. In addition, Army base operation funding would be cut by about $7 million in Pennsylvania.
  • Pennsylvania will lose about $866,000 in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement—meaning around 36,860 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment.
  • In Pennsylvania around 5,280 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B because of reduced funding for vaccinations in the amount of about $361,000.
  • As many as 1,800 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to childcare.
  • Pennsylvania would lose approximately $849,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors.
  • Through cuts to the STOP Violence Against Women Program, Pennsylvania could lose up to $271,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 1,000 fewer victims being served.
  • Pennsylvania will lose approximately $1,213,000 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, Pennsylvania will lose about $2,930,000 in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 3,500 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And Pennsylvania’s health departments will lose about $639,000 resulting in around 16,000 fewer HIV tests.

These are just some of the state-level cuts—there are many more cuts at the federal level, specifically in defense spending.

How will these cuts filter down to state and local governments as they set their budgets for the coming year? Will Americans feel the pain of these cuts enough to demand a more reasoned approach to deficit reduction? Is Washington capable of stopping the Blame Game long enough to govern responsibly for a change? As March 1 looms, it’s looking more and more like we’re about to find out.

Mana March 01, 2013 at 01:15 AM
Can you rewrite this using percent of budget? Also why do you support head start a failing organization?
Amanda Gillooly March 01, 2013 at 02:39 AM
Mana, I am just curious. Can you elaborate on why head start is a failing organization?
Mana March 01, 2013 at 04:06 AM
Easy...look at the statistics http://pjmedia.com/blog/head-start-the-166-billion-fed-ed-failure/. It doesn't work.
Amanda Gillooly March 01, 2013 at 04:47 AM
A simple Google search also shows this. http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/01/16/media-cherry-pick-facts-to-falsely-label-head-s/192284
Amanda Gillooly March 01, 2013 at 04:48 AM
And for the actual source documentation for those interested, here is a link to the actual study. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/head_start_report.pdf
Raymond March 01, 2013 at 11:31 AM
Mana is correct to ask. This article is misleading, disingenuous, and typical political scaremongering. We already spend BILLIONS on these programs. Most, if not all, are rife with fraud waste and abuse. Cut them. Working Americans just saw their payroll taxes increase by 2% and they just have to tighten their belts and live with it. Food a fuel prices have skyrocketed and we have to deal with it. I’ve lived in Cecil Township for over a decade and in that time my taxes increased by over 30%. Incomes for most have not risen to make up for these increases. While Jesse’s numbers seem large and devastating, they are miniscule in comparison to what we already spend, and in a lot of cases, waste on these programs. Most of the “problems” these programs say that they address are already paid for in other programs. Cut them. If our elected officials, like Representative White, cannot find ways to save money for the hard working taxpayer, then we need new elected officials.
E. Porter March 01, 2013 at 01:24 PM
Raymond is 110% CORRECT...........in Pa., unbelievably still a blue state, the wolves are guarding the hen house!
Mana March 01, 2013 at 01:49 PM
Again the report cherry picks. And there is no real benefit past 3rd grade. And as soon as you scan the report you can see that it identify no real benefits. The bottom line, head start is trying to fill in the gap for poor parenting skills.
Roger March 01, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Remember, even with the cut of $85B of PROPOSED spending, the actual spending is still $15B more than last year. We are on schedule to spend more money this year than last. To say the "sky is falling" means that last year was devastating to a larger extent than this year. If our nation cannot cut out 2.5% of spending, we will never find our way out of the $16T (and growing) deficit. We have become so accustomed to insuring what we have, growing what we have, and expending more money at every turn, we have no clue about reduction in spending. We have inoculated ourselves against any sacrifice or pain, we refuse to even consider that a change is needed, the courage to make changes, or the willingness to even consider changes. All the talk about "passing a problem along to our children" may be right in part. But, it fails to recognize a responsibility and willingness to make changes for the present citizens. How many seniors are hurting today because of the lack of income through the current fiscal policies? Thinking the problem will be shoved off to the next generation is short-sighted. Raymond, ... agree with your post. Mana, ... agree with your points about Head Start. We get worked up about very young children, while sending high school graduates out of the system unable to do 12th (or even 9th, 10th) grade work. Concern about schooling for pre-school isn't even on the radar screen of public education problems.
Phyllis Zaccarino March 01, 2013 at 04:09 PM
How can we call zero based budgeting a budget CUT? If I get to start out every year getting every dollar that I ask for, even using the word budget in a sentence is a misnomer. There is no budget, this is and has been a culture of SPEND SPEND SPEND. We have based our whole existence on using borrowed money to make everyone feel good. When we cannot keep up with our interest payments (which is around the corner) then we will truly experience budget CUTS.
Raymond March 01, 2013 at 04:31 PM
I hereby nominate Roger for State Representative of the 46 District of Pennsylvania.
Debbie March 01, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Let's take away Congress and the Senate's Health Insurance that we the tax payers pay. They chose to make everyone have and pay for healthcare-let them pay for their own and the children will have money for vaccines! Debbie
Jesse White March 01, 2013 at 11:22 PM
These allegations of 'fear-mongering' are ridiculous. Every PA legislator was provided with these numbers for informational purposes because we need to know what the impact will be. I went out of my way to avoid engaging in the politics and just passed along the numbers. At the state level, we have virtually no say over what happens at the federal level in Washington DC; we do have to decide whether to fill the holes created by unfunded mandates or lack of federal funding, so this information is actually important for us to know. Did I advocate raising taxes to offset these cuts? Not at all. Did I blame one side or another for the sequester? No, and I went out of my way to not blame anyone. Did I forecast doom and gloom as a result of these cuts? No I did not; I just provided the numbers and said the people will ultimately decide. How does anyone expect government to come up with a long-term solution to these issues if we can't even have a conversation about the facts without projecting political ideology and responding to things that were never even said? And Raymond, for the record, I have not raised your taxes during my tenure as a State Representative; in fact, I have vocally opposed and helped defeat suggested tax increases by Gov. Rendell.
Raymond March 02, 2013 at 02:49 AM
With all due respect Representative White, who provided the numbers? You only passed them on but they are written in such a way, with no balance, as to instill fear of “massive cuts” to the casual reader. You state that “Every PA legislator was provided with these numbers for informational purposes because we need to know what the impact will be.” Impact is a relative term without additional facts. Let’s look at some. “Pennsylvania will lose approximately $26.4 million in funding for primary and secondary education” From the PA Department of Education website: The Governor's Budget for 2013-2014 includes $5,493,629,000 (as in billion) for the Basic Education Funding appropriation. This is a $90 mil increase from 12-13. Notice that the number is for “Basic Education”. There is an additional $89.3 mil for “Student-Focused Funding”, whatever that is. I’m sure there is more. To put this in perspective, cutting 26.4 million is cutting less than ½ of 1%. 00.47% to be exact or less than $20 per month for a family that earns $50,000 per year. That same family just got hit with an $83 per month payroll tax increase. To be continued...
Raymond March 02, 2013 at 02:52 AM
Let’s continue: “putting around 360 teacher and aide jobs at risk.” Ok, when I was in school there were no teacher’s aides so I’m not sure what they do. But it would help to know if there are 358 teacher aide jobs and 2 teacher jobs at risk or the other way around. You get my point. If we want to have a conversation about the facts, we need all of the facts, not just numbers from one perspective. I don’t think anyone in this conversation brought up the D or R and frankly, I didn’t know which you were until I looked it up during the election. Keep up the good work and I may withdraw my nomination for Roger. And thanks for attempting to not raise my taxes.
Roger March 03, 2013 at 12:55 AM
News flash: The first day after, and we are still here! Perhaps the most noteworthy events of the day are the walk-backs of some who were on the doom-gloom path. More and more news reports are making clear that the so-called cuts still represent an increase in 2013 spending over 2012 spending. The obvious question remains: If all the services that were proclaimed to be cut after sequester, how were those same services operating last year with less spending? Also, one other news worthy bit from polls says that a mere 25% of the citizens know or care about the sequestration matter. This is down from about 50% who were aware of the "cliff" on December 31. Perhaps only one event of "cliff" was enough for many to discard the naysayers. What will happen with the next "cliff" at the end of March? Is our government running the country on a monthly financial crisis pattern? By the way, the 25% is a sad commentary. How can 2,000 criminals be released by the Immigration Department under the guise of sequestration cuts, and nobody can explain why? I'm sure all the law enforcement folks who worked hard to gather these people up and get them behind bars are really thrilled about this turn of events. Not!
Amanda Gillooly March 03, 2013 at 02:07 AM
Roger, I agree it's sad that only 25 percent of citizens know or care about the issue—it just shows how little people are engaged!
Roger March 11, 2013 at 07:00 PM
Another newsflash, ... more than 10 days after the event, we are still here, posting more nonsense on Patch, and reading nonsense of others. The sky has yet to drop, and it was actually cobalt blue on Saturday, and part of Sunday. What has happened? Three things come to mind. First, the White House has had to walk-back many of the claims made in the two weeks before the sequester date. Secondly, more and more stories emerge about how Fed agencies were ordered, either directly, or indirectly, to make any cuts as painful as possible. The Department of Agriculture and National Parks service are two that quickly come to mind. Nobody should be surprised at learning this. Thirdly, we see a new schmoozing President. The new look of Pres Obama is interesting. The question is will it be effective? A dinner at a local Wash DC hotel with twelve GOP senators, all of whom had a reason to be there. The next day, some US Representatives are invited to lunch at the WH. Both these moves seem positive on the surface. The question remains open about breaking the logjam. Words from those at these meetings were positive, but what was anybody going to say? Will the kinder, gentler schmooze approach gather support because of the method, or because of meaningful ideas discussed at the meetings? Clearly, the WH took a big hit on favorable ratings because of the events of the past three weeks. Does anybody care? A rebound will clear out this negative rating soon.

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