February 25, 2013
Absent a last minute deal, which is looking highly unlikely at this point, sequestration will begin on Friday with $85 billion in automatic spending cuts. This approach to solving our fiscal problems is shortsighted and will damage our economy. Thatís why I voted against the Budget Control Act in the summer of 2011, which is the legislation that gave us sequestration.
With time growing short, the White House released additional details on what sequestration will mean for Massachusetts. You can read the entire report here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/sequester-factsheets/Massachusetts.pdf
In just the past two years the federal budget deficit has already been reduced by over $2.5 trillion and that has happened mostly through spending cuts. The President proposed a long term solution to reduce the deficit by over $4 trillion with a combination of spending cuts and tax revenue. Republicans continue to reject any plan that contains even a penny of revenue from closing tax loopholes, insisting on spending cuts alone. Thatís not even close to a compromise approach, in fact, itís just the opposite.
If nothing happens before Friday, the impact on Massachusetts will be significant. Here are just a few numbers to illustrate what it will mean for some local initiatives:
- The state will lose close to $14 million in primary and secondary education funding, putting the jobs of 190 educators in jeopardy;
- Over $13 million in funding used for educators working with children who have disabilities will be lost. This money covers salaries for about 160 staffers. Absent supplemental funding, these staffers will be in danger of losing their jobs;
- 1,100 children would lose Head Start early education services;
- $4 million in funding for clean air and water initiatives will be lost;
- 7,000 civilian Department of Defense employees face furloughs, which will result in the loss of $43.4 million in wages.
The White House report also highlights the national impact of sequestration with cuts to education, public safety, health care, scientific research and much more. Keep in mind; this is not a onetime cut. Sequestration was designed to force spending cuts every year for ten years. Far too many programs and services, and the people who rely on them, will simply be devastated.
I will keep you informed of any progress made this week toward compromise but I am not optimistic.