The sequester in Indiana: Education
Too bad the Oscars came and went this past Sunday. On Monday, I downloaded and printed the White House's report on the impending sequester and its impact on the state of Indiana. If the other 49 states' reports are anything like Indiana's, then the Obama White House should be the early front-runners for the Best Original Screenplay statue.
The introduction contains some vintage Obama, such as saying that "There is no question that we need to cut the deficit..." Pretty ingenious coming from the guy who took a deficit and decided to give it steroids and a set of free weights. Another favorite is "The President has put forward a balanced plan to not only avoid the harmful effects of the sequester but also to reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion in total."
The Obama White House insists the nation cannot afford a "self-inflicted wound from Washington," but at the same time, they expect you to take off the tourniquet, because they are pretty damned sure the bleeding has stopped. Not completely sure, but pretty damned sure...
Here's how the sequestration would affect teachers, schools, and education, according to the Obama administration:
If sequestration were to take effect, Indiana will lose approximately $13.8 million in funding for primary and secondary education, resulting in:
Okay. Some of those numbers look pretty grim, I suppose. They would probably look even worse if it weren't for the numbers running counter to this claim- the new Indiana state budget. Under the new two-year budget passed by the Indiana House and sent to the Senate on Monday, $13.809 billion is allocated for K-12 education. That is 63% of state spending right there, and it is for elementary, high school, and university education.
This includes increases of 2% percent the first year and 1% the second year, as well as maintained funding for full-time kindergarten. This works out to an extra $334 million over the next two years.
The budget, crafted by majority Republicans and passed along party lines 68-28, does not take into account the scheduled reductions in federal spending and represents a 10% increase from the current budget. The plan will leave the state with $2.1 billion in the bank at the end of Fiscal Year 2015.
Okay, so let me see if I have this straight...if the new budget passes, Indiana will be spending nearly $14 billion on education, and we are supposed to sweat nearly $14 million? We're talking about 1/100th of a percent. That is not even a penny on the dollar, and not exactly a head for the hills because the sky is falling kind of number, is it?
That also begs the question, why is Indiana even accepting federal education money? From the numbers in the proposed budget, the state has education funded, and then some. If they can find an extra $334 million over the next two years and still be in the black when the budget is completed, then no one is going to lose their job over not getting a grant from the federal government. If they do, then they are dealing with an unfortunate reality of government life- and that is dealing with a grant-based job.
Since the Republicans can't get their act together on a national level, it seems as though the Republican governors have been stepping up to the plate. Seeing this, one would think new Governor Mike Pence would look at the numbers, and without a second thought, refuse the money even if Indiana winds up receiving it.
There are a handful of elected officials, most notably Sen. Rand Paul, who give the unused portions of their office budgets back at the end of the year to make a point, and Pence could score a huge hit on the White House by just saying "no thanks, keep the cash. We got this."
Then again, I'm still waiting for someone, anyone (except Paul Krugman or Ben Bernanke) to explain what is more harmful about an $85 billion reduction in spending versus having a $16 trillion deficit.
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