The Latest on Sequestration
The Senate recently approved the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 (HR 5872). It passed the House last week with a vote of 414-2 and it now awaits the President’s signature. The bill requires federal agencies to provide more program-level information on the potential 9% across the board cut.
Like all federal agencies, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) will have to report the impact of the possible sequestration at the program, project, and activity level for its annual appropriations and for applicable mandatory programs. Mandatory or “entitlement” programs do not require annual appropriations. The sequestration would apply to all education programs other than Pell grants, which Congress exempted from the cut.
Earlier in the week, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education, Tony Miller, issued a memorandum to state leaders explaining that sequestration would not likely affect funding for the 2012-13 school year. He noted that the worst case scenario, however, would be “severe.” Based on what we know, “severe” means that Title I, for example, could be cut by up to $1.3 billion and Title II could be cut by up to $224 million. (Estimates differ slightly, based on who’s doing the estimating. For more information, see this report and this position statement.)
What does this means for states and districts? ED’s forthcoming report will allow states and districts to be able to budget for the worst case scenario. That the bill passed, however, does not signal that the probability of the sequestration increased. We will simply know more program details as the nation dives into election season. There are a lot of politics to still play out.