LB, and colleges like it, are set to lose the equivalent of 5 full time staff instructors and 1 adjunct professor, as a consequence of the Budget Control Act of 2011.
While representatives of the two parties in the Congress bicker about whose fault the sequester is, its effects will begin to roll out over the next thirty days and these effects, while only representing 5% of the discretionary budget, will not be negligible to those affected.
Congress's inability to avoid the sequester, as was the original intent, has led to the ending of automatic overtime for federal law enforcement, cuts to immigration enforcement, cuts in education spending like the kind LB faces, and cuts to the USDA putting the US beef supply at risk because of a lack of inspectors.
Michael Houser a faculty member of the Business Management Department said, when asked about sequestration, “I would say that the congress and president should come to an agreement to avoid the sequestration since it wasn’t intended to begin with.”
Despite the rhetoric in Washington, the sequestration cuts aren’t apocalyptic and they completely ignore the ballooning mandatory spending of Medicare and Medicaid. However, for individuals affected by them, they will be significant.
Jim Huckestein, vice-president of finance and operations here at LB, said that, “there will be consequences to everything, [from the sequester].” The only federal funding that won’t be affected, over the next thirty days, is Pell Grants, which received a 1 year reprieve from Congress last year, and Student Loans which aren’t susceptible to the sequester. “Every federal grant will potentially be affected by the sequester,” he said.
These cuts may come as a surprise to students who have never heard of the sequester. According to Paul M. Johnson, professor of Political Science at the University of Auburn,“ The term, sequestration, is an effort to reform Congressional voting procedures so as to make the size of the Federal government's budget deficit a matter of conscious choice rather than simply the arithmetical outcome of a decentralized appropriations process in which no one ever looked at the cumulative results until it was too late to change them.”
Jennifer Combs, a student here at LB, said that she had heard only recently learned about the sequester on NPR. When she found out that the sequester would, in part, reduce the deficit by cutting education, she said, “cutting education is the wrong way to go.”
Cathy Baird, another student, felt that, “for people using these programs, they depend on them, it is not a luxurious lifestyle. With unemployment so high how are people supposed to get ahead?”
Emily Smucker said that it was ridiculous that Congress's plan to get the economy going included cuts to education spending. “If other countries can fund higher education we can do it too.”
While the Congress might still find a legislative compromise to avoid this latest fiscal crisis, citizens should know that their representatives were more willing to cut teacher, firefighter, and police pay, then cut corporate subsidies which amount to over 100 billion, over budget programs like the f-35 joint strike fighter, a 2 billion dollar jet that can’t fly in the rain, or even reign in the pentagon’s stealth program, which approaches 300 billion dollars. These cuts in essence are all pain, for those affected, with no meaningful gain for the nation as a whole, the cuts will reduce the deficit by about .05%.