By Alex Fitzsimmons
NCSL’s budget team answers these questions in a pair of new reports designed to assess the impact of the federal sequester on state budgets.
Sequestration is a formal way of referring to mandatory cuts to federal programs. It is a process by which funds are literally taken away from federal agencies. In this case, Congress sequestered $1.2 trillion in mandatory cuts—half from domestic programs, half from defense spending.
Here are some examples of what states can expect in terms of reduced funding for FY 2013, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) sequestration report:
- $1 billion plus cut to Title One education programs.
- $600 million less for Head Start.
- $140 million reduction in financial aid for college students.
- $2.5 billion cut in medical research.
- $600 million reduction to the federal disaster relief fund.
To make matters worse, programs with unfunded or underfunded mandates—including Real ID, No Child Left Behind Act, homeland and border security programs, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the state criminal alien assistance program—would be further underfunded or remain unfunded.
On the defense side, we can expect almost $4 billion in cuts to operations and maintenance, a $2 billion reduction in research, development, and evaluation, and a $700 billion decline in procurement. A new analysis released on Friday by a defense industry trade group projected that defense cuts would cost 2.14 million American jobs.
But it’s not all bad news for states. While sequestration affects virtually every category of domestic discretionary spending, most state-fed entitlement programs are exempt, including Medicaid, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant (TANF), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
In January, NCSL’s Deficit Reduction Task Force sent a letter to the White House and Congress urging Washington to “go big” on deficit reduction and explore all possible avenues, including discretionary spending, entitlement reform and revenue options.
Congress still has time to prevent these cuts from taking effect, though that likely won’t happen until after the election. In the meantime, states should prepare for the worst and hope for the best.