A substantial federal budget approved by President Barack Obama on Friday could stop the flow of millions of dollars to services across Los Angeles County unless Congress acts to stop it.
U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal warned last week of sequestration impacts on Long Beach. And California State University, Long Beach, and Long Beach City College could both see cuts to student aid programs, according to a report by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
But Cal State Long Beach President F. King Alexander said beyond student aid cuts, the California economy is at risk.
“I’m primarily concerned with the indirect effects of sequestration on California’s economy,” said Alexander in a statement Friday. “Across the board federal cuts to research programs, student financial aid and other important services could ripple out and stymie that growth.
“The governor’s budget is predicated on the basis that our economy is beginning to grow. Sequestration could shatter that economic scenario and push California back toward recession-era budget cuts,” he said. “If this were to happen, Governor [Jerry] Brown’s efforts to provide moderate and gradual re-investments in our universities could fail to become a reality."
The budget cuts, known as sequestration, were part of a deal struck between the White House and Congress in 2011 on the raising of the national debt limit. Democrats were in favor of voting to raise the debt ceiling, but Republicans wanted spending cuts in return. Sequestration will end in 2021 and is projected to lower the deficit by $1.2 trillion.
Part of President Obama’s plan to reduce the deficit calls for an increase in taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent in addition to spending cuts, but many Republicans oppose it.
Three Los Angeles County departments will see an across-the-board budget reduction of about 5.3 percent and be forced to make cuts to programs like those for affordable housing under the HOME Investment Partnership; rent subsidies for low-income, disabled and senior citizens under Section 8; and public safety programs under the Community-Oriented Policing and Byrne Justice Assistance grants.
The cuts represent less than 1 percent of the more than $5.4 billion in federal funds L.A. County received last year, according to officials. Most of the federal money the county receives is sequestration-proof and protected for low-income programs like Medicaid and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
The Obama administration last Sunday released a detailed report with information on how the sequester would affect each state. According to the report, California schools will lose about $87.6 million in federal funding, putting some 1,210 teachers and aides out of work. Financial aid would no longer be available for 9,600 low-income college students; some 3,690 work-study jobs would be eliminated and 8,200 children would be without early education, according to the report.
“Over time,” Alexander said, “California families could personally experience the long-term outcomes of today’s sequestration and the unfortunate political grid lock that continues to exist in Washington, D.C.”
City News Service contributed to this report.