Substantial federal budget cuts scheduled to begin Friday could stop the flow of millions of dollars to services across Los Angeles County unless Congress acts to stop it.
Los Angeles Unified School District will lose approximately $37 million of the $1 billion it receives annually, said Superintendent John Deasy in an open letter to representatives.
“The cut would cause crippling reductions to our schools that serve our students with the highest needs (students who live in poverty and our English learners),” said Deasy.
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 on 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.
City News Service contributed to this report.