What is sequestration?
The “sequester” refers to a series of across-the-board budget cuts that will go into effect on March 1, 2013. I voted against the 2011 Budget Control Act which mandated sequestration. Without Congressional action sequestration will set forth a total of $85 billion in cuts that will apply in equal measure to defense and non-defense spending.
These cuts threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs; services for children, seniors and veterans; and our overall economic recovery.
I agree that reducing our deficit is of great importance. However, I believe that we should cut spending and reduce the deficit in a balanced way that doesn’t affect our economic recovery and cut programs vital to our middle class.
President Obama has put forth a balanced plan that avoids the harmful effects of sequestration and reduces the deficit by more than $4 trillion. It is time for Republicans in Congress to stop playing politics and work with the President to meet him halfway on a sensible and responsible solution to the pending sequestration cuts.
Sequestration will have very serious consequences for Californians. Below are just a few of the impacts it is slated to have on California’s families.
- Job Search Assistance: California will lose about $3.3 million in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement. This means that 129,770 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment and important training.
- Cuts to Small Business: Instead of helping small businesses expand and hire, the automatic cuts would reduce loan guarantees to small businesses by up to approximately $900 million.
- Emergency Unemployment compensation: People receiving Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits would see their benefits cut by nearly 11%.
- Work-Study Jobs: 3,690 students will lose the opportunity to get work-study jobs that help pay for college.
- Head Start: Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for 8,200 children in California.
- Teachers and Schools: California will lose approximately $87.6 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 1,210 teacher and aide jobs at risk.
- Financial Aid: Around 9,600 fewer low income students in California would receive aid to help them finance the cost of college.
- Title I Education funds: Title I funds are targeted to high-poverty schools and districts and used to provide educational services to students who are educationally disadvantaged or at risk of failing to meet state standards. Under sequestration, Title I funding would be eliminated for 2,700 schools nationwide and affect some 1.2 million students. The reduction in funding would put the jobs of 10,000 teachers and aides at risk. Students would lose access to individual instruction, afterschool programs, and other interventions that help close achievement gaps.
- Veterans Services: Although the Department of Veterans Affairs is exempt from sequestration, the Department of Labor’s Veterans Transition Assistance Program, which serves over 1,500 veterans a year, will have to reduce operations- leaving thousands of transitioning veterans underserved as they move from active duty to civilian life. The Jobs for Veterans State Grants Program would also experience cuts, translating into a reduction in the capacity to serve tens of thousands of veterans in their efforts to find civilian employment.
- Military Readiness: In California, some 64,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $399.4 million in total.
- Army Base Operations: Cut by about $54 million in California.
- Air Force: Funding for the Air Force operations in California would be cut by about $14 million.
- Navy: Maintenance and repair of 5 ships in San Diego and aircraft depot maintenance in North Island could be canceled.
- Social Security: The Social Security Administration (SSA) would be forced to curtail service to the public and reduce program oversight efforts designed to make sure benefits are paid accurately and to the right people. This will translate to a reduction in service hours to the public, and a substantial growth in the backlog of Social Security disability claims.
- Senior Meals: 4 million seniors nationwide risk losing services from programs like Meals on Wheels. Some of these meals can account for 50 percent or more of daily food for the majority of participants. In California alone, these programs will face $5.4 million in cuts.
- STOP Violence Against Women Program: California could lose up to $795,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 3,000 fewer victims being served.
- Nutrition Assistance for Women, Infants & Children: Approximately 600,000 women and children nationwide would be dropped from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). At least 1,600 state and local jobs could be lost as a result.
- Childcare: Up to 2,000 disadvantaged and vulnerable children would lose access to child care, which is also essential for working parents to hold down a job.
- Vaccines for Children: In California, around 15,810 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B because of $1.1 million cuts to vaccination programs
- Funds for Crime Prevention & Prosecution: California will lose about $1.6 million 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 and victim and witness initiatives.
- FBI and other law enforcement: The FBI and other law enforcement agencies would lose up to 1,000 Federal agents. This loss of agents would impact our ability to combat violent crime, pursue financial crimes, secure our borders and protect national security.
- Customs and border control: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would face significant cuts in personnel. The CBP would have to reduce its work hours by the equivalent of over 5,000 federal border patrol agents and the equivalent of over 2,750 CBP officers. This will increase wait time at airports, weaken security between land ports of entry, limit CBP’s ability to collect revenue owed to the Federal government, and slow screening and entry for those traveling into the US. Our biggest ports of entry in California and Texas could face wait times of 5 hours or more during peak holiday weekends and travel periods.
- Protections for Clean Air and Clean Water: California would lose about $12.4 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. In addition, California could lose another $1.9 million in grants for fish and wildlife protections.