LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- If Congress doesn't come up with a plan, here locally, education will see the largest chunk of spending cuts under the federal sequester. The deadline is March 1, and the White House estimates more than $10 million will be cut from teachers, universities and schools in Arkansas.
When Mills High School Teacher Jeremy Jenkins heard the words "budget cuts," he said his first thought was the impact it would have on students.
The White House said the sequester could put the jobs of 150 teachers and staff at risk. Understandably, Jenkins is a little worried about his position
"There is always that thought in the back of your mind," said Jenkins.
Although $10 million in cuts sounds like a lot of money, UALR Chief Economist Michael Pakko said the cuts will be gradual.
"It's in the interest of the administration to make it sound like these will be severe cuts," said Pakko.
"Personally, I don't concern myself too much with it until it happens," said Jenkins.
The Department of Education released a statement saying in part, "for more than a year, our commissioner and deputy commissioner have been telling school districts the cuts were likely, and they should build their budgets accordingly. School districts are allowed to carry over 15% of their Title funds."
UALR senior Amber Brossett hopes to come back to her work study job at the Career Counseling Center next year.
"It's a great opportunity to know my peers especially working with professionals in the field I'm going into. It's a great opportunity for me," said Brossett.
Her job might not be there when she returns this fall. The federal government's sequester could mean cutting 110 work study positions in Arkansas. Yet, it's unclear how big of an impact that will be.
"What is lacking is a sense of proportion. $100,000 cut hereit's out of a budget of how big?" said Pakko.
"It's unfortunate the sequester would impact college students receiving need-based aid in the form of work study and grant programs," said Shane Broadway with the Higher Education Department. "However, we're hopeful a bipartisan agreement can be reached before the deadline Friday."
The cuts not only affect education, but also the military, environmental funding for clean water and air, and domestic violence programs.
"The potential furlough will be the single largest impact for us [in the military] however, since we have a full-time force that consists of just over 1,000 technicians. That is more than half of our total full-time force of military personnel across the state," said Major Chris Heathscott with a Arkansas National Guard. "We still have a lot of unknowns."
- Arkansas will lose approximately $5.9 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 80 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 10,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 30 fewer schools would receive funding.
- About $5.6 million in funds for about 70 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.
- About 380 fewer low income students in Arkansas would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 110 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.
- Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 600 children in Arkansas, reducing access to critical early education.
- About $1.6 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste.
- About $842,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.
- About 4,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $19.2 million in total.
- About $159,000 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.
- About $273,000 in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement, meaning around 9,850 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment.
- Up to 200 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care, which is also essential for working parents to hold down a job.
- About 1,140 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 $78,000.
- Arkansas will lose approximately $279,000 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.
- About $660,000 in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 200 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And the Arkansas State Department of Health will lose about $84,000 resulting in around 2,100 fewer HIV tests.
- STOP Violence Against Women Program could lose up to $62,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 200 fewer victims being served.
- Arkansas would lose approximately $310,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors.
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