Oklahoma schools face $12 million cut without budget deal, White House warns
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Monday, February 25, 2013
2/25/13 at 10:56 AM
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The Obama White House said Sunday that Oklahoma schools could lose at least $12.2 million in federal funding, including $7.3 million for special education, under the automatic spending cuts due to take effect Friday.
In total, sequestration would curtail federal spending by $85 billion through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
The administration and congressional Republicans are locked in a bitter fight over the issue, with the White House warning of dire consequences from sequestration while the GOP says the cuts, while potentially painful and ham-handedly applied, are preferable to raising taxes.
Appearing in Tulsa Saturday night at a GOP fundraiser, four of Oklahoma's five Republican U.S. representatives agreed the administration is overstating the severity of the cuts.
Sunday, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn told Fox News the White House is exaggerating the impact of the reductions, which amount to about 3 percent of all federal spending.
"There (are) easy ways to cut this money that the American people will never feel," Coburn said on Fox News Sunday.
The figures released Sunday by the administration are described as "examples" of sequestration's impacts on Oklahoma.
As previously reported, civilian military employees would likely be hardest hit by the process known as sequestration, with operating budgets for the state's five installations reduced $68 million over the next seven months and 24,000 civilian workers facing one-day-a-week furloughs.
Those figures do not include the indirect impact of sequestration on private military contractors, from janitorial services to manufacturers.
Sunday's report did not address several other areas likely to affect Oklahoma, including reductions to the Women, Infants and Children program, highway funding, oil and gas exploration permitting, loan guarantees to small businesses, Federal Aviation Administration furloughs, and cuts to research grants for science and medicine.
- A loss of $12.3 million for education, including $7.3 million for special education. At least 13,000 students would be affected.
- Early Head Start and Head Start would lose about 800 slots, and another 500 "disadvantaged and vulnerable" children would lose access to subsidized child care.
- Various public health programs would lose more than $1.3 million, most of it for substance abuse treatment.
- Senior nutrition programs would lose about $300,000.
Although often described as "across-the-board" cuts, sequestration would actually leave large parts of the government relatively unaffected. Most social insurance programs, including Medicaid, Social Security, the Children's Health Insurance Program and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, are exempt.
Military pay and Veterans benefits are also exempt, but support programs for family members are not.
Medicare cuts are limited to 2 percent.
Original Print Headline: Schools face $12M cut without budget deal
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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (left), panelist Neill Christopher, National Governors Association Vice Chairman Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, NGA Chairman Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, and panelist Joan McGovern participate in an NGA special session Sunday. MANUEL BALCE CENETA / Associated Press