Last Friday, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a much-anticipated report outlining the impact of the automatic across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, set to take place in January, 2013. According to OMB, federal education investments stand to be cut across-the-board by 8.2 percent a reduction of over $4.1 billion for the U. S. Department of Education (ED). All nondefense discretionary programs will be cut by 8.2 percent.

Required 30 days after the Sequestration Transparency Act was signed into law, this report was expected to detail the impact of sequestration among all program, project and activities based on the funding levels in place January 2, 2013. However, OMB missed the September 6 reporting deadline by eight days and failed to detail the cuts at the program and project level. Further, the  six-month temporary spending bill known as a continuing resolution (CR), which passed in the House and is expected to pass in the Senate this week with a wide margin, provides a 0.612 percent funding increase to all Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 programs through March 2013. The report does not account for the slight finding increase in the CR, which means that as a result, the final amount cut due to sequestration will be slightly different than reported.

Knowing how every spending account subject to the automatic across-the-board cuts will be impacted is important information to arm education advocates and Members of Congress with, since it is clear that if Congress allows sequestration to happen starting January 2, 2013, it is not only deeply troubling but irresponsible. Unfortunately, this report fails to provide the expected level of details that could contribute to a robust debate in Congress on why they must pass a balanced approach of targeted cuts and revenues to replace sequestration and reduce the impact to federal education investments.

Previously, in a letter clarifying the impact of sequestration to education funding, the U.S. Department of Education stated that the potential for sequestration should not upset planning and hiring decisions for 2012-2013 school year. However, the $1.2 billion Impact Aid program, which funds nearly 1,200 schools with a large federal presence in their district, will be impacted starting January 2, 2013.

Title I grants, Title II grants, IDEA State Grants, and Career and Technical Education, programs that receive advanced appropriations funding would be subject to the sequester starting July 2013, which isn’t clear in the newly released report, but was previously stated by the U.S. Department of Education. Since little official information on the implementation and impact of sequestration has been released by the Administration before this report, many education advocates have relied heavily on the State-by-state impact of Sequestration compiled by the NEA and Senator Harkin’s (D- IA) detailed state-level analysis of the impact of sequestration to dozens of education programs Under Threat: Sequestrations Impact on Nondefense Jobs and Services.

The OMB report, released just one day after the House approved a short-term spending package to fund federal programs into the next fiscal year, is yet another reminder that sequestration is not the way to reduce our deficit as it places vital resources that serve our children, schools and communities at risk.

Congress can and must act to prevent these harmful cuts to our nations’ education system that will place tens of thousands of educator jobs and services to students at risk. To urge Congressional action, NAESP, along with an unprecedented array of nearly 3,000 national, state, and local groups from the education, health, public safety and other fields, delivered a letter to Congress calling for a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to nondefense programs. Read the full letter here.

Members of Congress need to hear from constituents on how these budget cuts will impact their communities. NAESP members may visit the Legislative Action Center to write to your own federal lawmakers to ask that they reduce protect critical education programs.

For more information, including Q & A’s on sequestration, please visit NAESP’s sequestration webpage.

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