If the White House and Congress do not come to an agreement to prevent the sequestration process of automatic across – the - board budget cuts, the Illinois Statehouse will feel a lot of pain. It would substantially exacerbate problems for arguably the most fiscally challenged state in the nation.
The primary areas Illinois would be hurt are in education support. According to a briefing issued by the White House detailing state-by-state 2013 impact, Illinois would:
• Lose $33.4 million in primary and secondary education funding which would place 460 teaching positions in jeopardy;
• Have 39,000 children with disabilities impacted by a loss of $24.7 million in funds that support 300 education staffers specifically trained to work with those students;
• Prevent 2,700 children from receiving Head Start and Early Head Start programming;
• Result in 3,280 low-income college students not receiving financial assistance and 2,650 college students not being able to get work-study jobs to help pay for college; and
• In a related area, Illinois would lose $1.4 million in work force development funding that would potentially help more than 50,000 people. It should also be noted that if those job seekers were relying on child care assistance, they would also have access to fewer resources because of sequestration.
Sequestration would also impact a number of other areas in Illinois beyond education, such as:
• A loss of $587,000 in Justice Assistance Grants that support crime prevention, courts, corrections and law enforcement in the state;
• A reduction of more than $7 million in environmental funding for clean air and water and fish and wildlife protection activities;
• 5,230 children not receiving vaccines for diseases such a measles, mumps and whooping cough;
• A potential reduction of more than $6 million in public health funds that support an array of services such as substance abuse, HIV testing and public health threat responses;
• A reduction of $764,000 in funds that provide meals for low-income seniors; and
• Reductions in funding for up to 1,000 victims of domestic violence.
The reductions in federal funding would definitely hurt Illinois, which cannot internally replace those loses unless it wants to make a big problem even bigger. The Civic Federation released a report today projecting that in five years, Illinois’ unpaid bills will triple to $22 billion unless it makes significant changes to reduce pension and Medicaid costs.
While the Illinois General Assembly meets this week to address its internal fiscal woes, they can only probably cross their fingers that the federal government will not make their jobs even harder. The deadline on sequestration in D.C. is Friday.