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NAfME Response to Sequestration

Posted by shannonk on Tuesday, February 26, 2013

As you are probably aware, if Congress does not act in the next couple of days, a devastating sequester (across-the-board spending cuts) will impact everything from defense spending to education funding. Specifically, in the case of music education, the deeply important Title I monies that can be used to provide access to music education for America’s most disadvantaged students, will be greatly impacted. With a projected overall cut of 5% to all non-defense discretionary funding, Title I funds can expect to take a hit somewhere in the neighborhood of $725 million, for FY 2013 (2013 – 2014 school year). Arts in Education funding will also continue to be threatened during the upcoming budget process. Arts in Ed. is currently funded at roughly $25 million.

It’s important to note that sequestration was adopted with the idea that such arbitrary spending cuts would force Congress to adopt a more strategic deficit reduction plan. Discretionary programs account for a very small percentage of overall Federal spending, yet are the sole target for sequestration spending cuts. Many of the cuts that will occur come Friday directly affect the most disadvantaged segments of the country’s population, and will also reduce spending on programs for which, according to polls, a majority of voters actually support increased investment—such as education.

Check out this link from the Washington Post to see the impact of sequestration on education in your state:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/sequestration-state-impact/

If interested, you may wish to take a moment to call or email your representatives in Congress and ask that they oppose these damaging cuts to important programs, including education, that will impact the lives of millions of Americans and, instead, seek a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

Here is a sample email to a member of Congress:

Dear Representative/Senator ________,

As a supporter of vital public education programs, I am writing to urge you to support a balanced approach to deficit reduction and to act to stop sequestration.  The discretionary spending cuts scheduled to take effect on Friday will reduce the Department of Education’s budget by an estimated $3 billion in 2013-2014.  This reduction will result in a loss of approximately $725 million in Title I funding and $600 million in special education funding; further, an estimated 70,000 children will lose access to Head Start programs, which have shown to significantly impact later academic success.  

As you are also aware, non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs such as education represent a small and shrinking share of the federal budget and of our overall economy.  Under the bi-partisan Budget Control Act, by 2021 NDD funding will decline to just 2.5 percent of GDP, the lowest level in at least 50 years.  Even completely eliminating all NDD programs would still not balance the budget, yet NDD programs have to date borne the brunt of deficit reduction efforts. 

Tackling the larger spending issues at hand is the more difficult, and most urgent, task before Congress.  Education is our greatest and most important investment in our nation’s future and we must continue our investment moving forward. I believe that Congress can find a solution to reducing our deficit without such negative impacts on our country’s most vulnerable children.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

 

If you have questions about how to contact your member of Congress, email us at advocacy@nafme2.org, and check out our other resources at Music Advocacy Groundswell!