Tuesday, April 30, 2013

By: Derek Thomas

Sequestration is a package of automatic spending cuts enacted under the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011. Due to disagreements over fiscal policy during the 2011 federal budget showdown, the automatic triggers – equal to $85.3 billion – were proposed by President Obama and supported by a majority of both parties in Congress to incentivize an agreement. 
Below are details of the effects that budget cuts have had on the State of Indiana thus far. We’ll continue updating this list as the news comes in (for comparison, here are the White House estimates of the sequester effects on Indiana, and a press release from Governor Pence on the state's proposed attempts at mitigating the effects).
  • Updated (July, 2013): According to the Economic Policy Institute -  Indiana was 1 of 5 states to see the "largest percentage funding cuts for federal grants due to both the March 1 sequestration as well as the passage of the current continuing resolution..." These grants "aid states' efforts to provide infrastructure, education, and health and social services."
  • Updated (July, 2013): According to The Republic in Columbus, IN, the Women, Infant and Children program (WIC) in Bartholemew County are seeing full-time positions reduced to part-time jobs due to sequestration, and while services have not been cut yet, accessing these vital services could mean longer lines and reduced service delivery as staff attempts to do more with less. 
  • Head Start programs in Franklin and Columbus have resorted to a lottery system to determine which students would be cut from the program, and other agencies are reporting a likely termination of summer programs and staff, including Bloomington. Being only 1 of 11 states that do not have state-funded pre-kindergarten programs, and high rates of child poverty, Indiana’s federal and state lawmakers should act swiftly to ensure the protection our of most vulnerable Hoosier children. 
    • Updated (July, 2013): In Bloomington, 12 slots for Head Start students, 25 slots for home-based Early Head Start, 72 slots for summer programs, and 15 Head Start employees will be affected by the cuts. According to WXIN Fox 59 News, Monroe County is among the first to address sequester cuts.
    • Updated (August, 2013): WTHI - TV in Terre Haute reports that sequestration is responsible for "at least 20 children not able to attend Head Start...staffing cuts, and even the elimination of Head Start's full day program."
    • Update (August, 2013): From the Indy Star: More than 700 Hoosier preschoolers will not take part in program due to automatic federal cuts. In addition, according to the article: "about 100 jobs could be lost as result of the shortfall."
    • Here's a photo from the Community Action Program of Evansville (CAPE) "featuring 34 empty chairs & 8 baby cribs to represent 42 fewer children" Head Start is able to serve. Here's the entire article from Evansville Courier Press.                
  • The National Institutes of Health estimated that the $1.5 billion in federal funding for medical research will not only result in direct and indirect job loss, but will have a  "disproportionate impact on our academic medical center and our ability to care for our sickest and most vulnerable patients, both now and in the future."
  • Vulnerable seniors in rural Indiana that depend on the Meals on Wheels program for food delivery will have to find alternative methods of food delivery  as a result of the 10% cut to the program.
    • Updated (August, 2013): In Title III Older Americans Act, meals are provided through three sources: home-delivered nutrition services; congregate nutrition services and; nutrition services incentives program. Here is the breakdown of cuts to each funding source.
  • Updated (July, 2013): According to WFIE, News Channel 14, the Tri-State Food Bank (having already lost 1.4 million pounds of food due to budget cuts last year) has seen an additional half-million pounds lost due to sequestration cuts. 
  • On March 21st, the FAA announced that it would be closing two airport control towers in the Gary and Columbus airports.  On April 15th, a handful of flights were cancelled or delayed as a result of the FAA furloughing 47,000 employees.
  • Federally extended unemployment benefits have been cut for the long-term unemployed by 10.7%. Of the 8.7% of unemployed Hoosiers, 33.5% have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks – defined as long-term unemployed.
  • The Fort Wayne Housing Authority has some serious concerns and states that the funds they get for their program are currently running at only 64% of what they were and could result in cuts to low-income housing vouchers.
    • The Indianapolis Housing Agency has declared a nine-day furlough of its employees and is freezing hiring and capital expenditures. 
    • Updated (July, 2013): West Lafayette to See Budget Cuts After Sequester - City officials were notified that their Community Development Blok Grant would be cut. WFII Channel 18 reports that West Lafayette uses CDBG dollars for infrastructure, housing and to fund non-profit service providers. 
  • The Wall St. Journal reported today that “defense spending tumbled by 33.2%, possibly reflecting spending cuts known as the sequester” – signaling a likely continuation of the activity listed below:
    • The South Shore Air Show in Hammond, Indiana is still debating whether or not to schedule their show in lieu of the sequestration.
    • For the Indianapolis 500, there will not be any scheduled federally funded flyovers during the race or any active duty military parades. 
      • Updated (July, 2013): Furloughs 10,000 Civilian Defense Workers in Indiana - According to the Indianapolis Star, each worker will face 11 days of furlough. The Star also reports that, "[b]ecause these budget cuts were so large, they will force unavoidable changes for the city of 46,000." 
    • One thousand full-time guard staffers from Indiana National Guard are preparing for furloughs - resulting in a 20% pay reduction for 14 weeks.

Congress’ inability to restore these cuts will continue to have a disproportionate effect on low-income Hoosier families. These reckless and widespread cuts (alongside the inability of state and federal lawmakers to prioritize our most vulnerable families, children and seniors) will only further exacerbate the Status of Working Families (see 2012 Report here) - defined by increasing poverty, declining opportunities, stagnating wages and challenges to educational attainment necessary to create high-wage job growth.

TAKE ACTION (via the Coalition on Human Needs): Email Congress - No More Sequester CutsFollow the link above to contact your "representative and senators during the recess and tell them that we need to invest in the services that allow people to move forward. Congress has headed home for its August recess.  They left with sequestration cuts still in place and more looming if they don't take action to end them." 

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