Congress has until the end of the week to come up with a deficit-reduction plan, or risk $85 billion in automatic spending cuts. The White House on Monday released a report, giving a snapshot of what the sequester would mean for Illinois.
The sequester could affect everything from commercial flights to classrooms to meat inspections. Domestic and defense spending alike would be trimmed, leading to furloughs for hundreds of thousands of government workers and contractors.
Specifically in Illinois, the White House outlined the impact that the cuts would have this year:
Teachers and Schools: Illinois will lose approximately $33.4 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 460 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 39,000 fewer students would be served and approximately120 fewer schools would receive funding:
Education for Children with Disabilities: In addition, Illinois will lose approximately $24.7 million in funds for about 300 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.
Work-Study Jobs: Around 3,280 fewer low income students in Illinois would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 2,650 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.
Head Start: Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 2,700 children in Illinois, reducing access to critical early education.
Protections for Clean Air and Clean Water: Illinois would lose about $6.4 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. In addition, Illinois could lose another $974,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.
Military Readiness: In Illinois, approximately 14,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $83.5 million in total.
Army: Base operation funding would be cut by about $19 million in Illinois.
Air Force: Funding for Air Force operations in Illinois would be cut by about $7 million.
Navy: Four planned Naval Station Great Lakes demolition projects ($2 million) could be canceled and a scheduled Blue Angels show in Rockford could be canceled.
Law Enforcement and Public Safety Funds for Crime Prevention and Prosecution: Illinois will lose about $587,000 in Justice Assistance Grants that support law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.
Job Search Assistance to Help those in Illinois find Employment and Training: Illinois will lose about $1.4 million in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement, meaning around 50,780 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment.
Child Care: Up to 1,100 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care, which is also essential for working parents to hold down a job.
Vaccines for Children: In Illinois around 5,230 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B due to reduced funding for vaccinations of about $357,000.
Public Health: Illinois will lose approximately $968,000 in funds to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. In addition, Illinois will lose about $3.5 million in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 3,900 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And the Illinois State Department of Public Health will lose about $186,000 resulting in around 4,600 fewer HIV tests.
STOP Violence Against Women Program: Illinois could lose up to $273,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 1,000 fewer victims being served.
Speaking from Washington on Monday afternoon, Congressman John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) said the sequester cuts are going to happen.
“The question is where will these cuts occur?” he said.
Shimkus maintains entitlement reforms are critical to spare other programs and services from enduring devastating cuts. He added that he believes Congress will pass a resolution to allow cabinet secretaries to have a say in which services should be cut and by how much.
“Sequester will hit,” Shimkus said. “The world will not collapse, and that will get us to the table in empowering secretaries to make decisions on the good programs to the wasteful programs.”
Congressman Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) said he hopes Congress gives agency heads flexibility of how to administer the sequester cuts should they go through.
“So, if sequestration…if this lazy, bad policy is going to go into effect,” Davis said. “The cabinet secretaries ought to make sure that they do what they can to avoid direct impacts to our school children, to our soldiers on the ground, and to others that are serving – to our meat inspectors and our agricultural community – that are going to be affected right in Illinois.”
On Monday, President Obama said the impact on the economy will be deeper the longer the cuts are in place.
"The uncertainty is already having an effect," Obama said. "Companies are preparing layoff notices. Families are preparing to cut back on expenses. The longer these cuts are in place, the bigger the impact will become."
With Congress back from a weeklong recess, House Speaker John Boehner showed little willingness to move off his long-held position that the sequester be offset through targeted spending cuts, not the package of cuts and tax increases Obama supports.
"Mr. President, you got your tax increase," Boehner said, referring to the tax rate increases that took effect on Jan. 1. "It's time to cut spending here in Washington."
The White House continued laying out in stark terms what the cuts would mean for government services, dispatching Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to warn of the implications for critical security functions.
"I don't think we can maintain the same level of security at all places around the country with sequester as without sequester," said Napolitano, adding that the impact would be "'like a rolling ball. It will keep growing."
Napolitano focused in particular on the impact to the border, saying her agency would be forced to furlough 5,000 patrol agents. She tamped down the notion that budget cuts would make the nation more vulnerable to terrorism, but said the sequester would make it "awfully, awfully tough" to minimize that risk.
Also Monday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said visiting hours would be cut at all 398 national parks, just as they prepare for an influx of spring and summer visitors.
Elsewhere in the government, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the cuts would harm the readiness of U.S. fighting forces. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said travelers could see delayed flights. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said 70,000 fewer children from low-income families would have access to Head Start programs. And furloughed meat inspectors could leave plants idled.
Obama will seek to build public support for his sequester offset plan Tuesday when he travels to Newport News, Va., a community that would be impacted by the defense cuts.
The sequester was designed as an unpalatable fallback, meant to take effect only if a congressional super-committee failed to come up with at least $1 trillion in savings from benefit programs.