Federal across-the-board budget cuts totaling $85 billion are likely to kick in Friday, but the White House now concedes the impact will not be as immediately dramatic as recent posturing indicated. City and School District 303 officials acknowledged that in remarks this week to St. Charles Patch.
In fact, the New York Times reported Wednesday that President Barack Obama is counting on “a constant drip-drip-drip of bad news” slowly coming out in congressional districts in the weeks ahead to erode the steadfast opposition of Republican lawmakers to raising taxes.
The cuts, called sequestration, are mandated by a 2011 deficit reduction law, according to the Chicago Tribune. The cuts cover both defense (13 percent) and non-defense (9 percent) spending, but do not include such things as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the interest the government pays on its debt.
Local Effect Difficult to Assess
Ultimately, the effects of sequestration — job cuts, smaller paychecks, losses or reductions in government services — will take a toll on Americans. That includes St. Charles residents, St. Charles City Administrator Brian Townsend and St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 spokesman Jim Blaney said on Tuesday.
“At this time, we have not been notified, nor are we aware of, any specific impacts on the city of St. Charles,” Townsend wrote in an email on Tuesday. “The larger issue for the city could be in the future. There is a potential for the state of Illinois to reduce support to local governments in response to sequestration. State government has a greater reliance on federal aid. Any impacts at that level will cause additional stress that could ‘trickle down’ to local cities and villages.”
At the federal level, both Democrats and Republicans are posturing about the effects sequestration will bring, and it is difficult to assess how quickly the cuts will roll out. That also makes it difficult to prepare for cuts at the local level — particularly since the stances by both Democrats and Republicans are intended to force a compromise that is favorable to their respective agendas.
“Right now, it’s all over the map,” said Blaney, the District 303 spokesman. “We do not expect an impact on operations — the key word being expect.”
Cuts on Environment, Police
Townsend there are only two items on the White House list of Illinois impacts that will affect the city One is the loss of of about $6.4 million to the state for environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. The state’s potential loss of another $974,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection also is a concern.
But cuts to state funding for police, as well as crime prevention and prosecution also are a concern. Illinois faces the lose about $587,000 in Justice Assistance Grants, which support police, prosecutions and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.
Education Hits, too
Blaney said District 303 Superintendent Donald Schlomann is monitoring the developments related to schools, and that the district will adjust accordingly.
But in some respects, he continued, at least in the shorter term, it won’t be much different than the adjustments the school district has had to make to the ebb and flow of income from a cash-strapped state government.
“The district has been dealing with late state payments for a long time, and we adjust,” he said. “But right now there’s not enough concrete” information on the federal budget cuts for local school districts to assess.
To date, talk of sequestration’s impact on Illinois schools has been broad — statewide impacts whose local impacts have not been defined yet. From that perspective, the White House assessment points to the impacts on Illinois education as the loss of about $33.4 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting some 460 teacher and aide jobs in jeopardy. That also means 39,000 fewer students would be served and about fewer schools would receive funding. Other cuts would affect education for children with disabilities, Head Start and Early Head Start programs, and work study jobs for low-income college students in Illinois.
- St. Charles Patch: What Will Illinois Lose in the Sequester?
- St. Charles Patch: Roskam: Sequester Remarks Show 'Void of Presidential Leadership'
- PDF: White House PDF on Illinois Impact
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