Today, Rep Mike Honda issued this statement in response to CA State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson's letter to Members of Congress:
My former California Assembly colleague, Tom Torlakson, hit the mark in his letter to House and Senate Congressional leadership this week: struggling families and children will bear the heavy load of sequester burden. All students in California schools and especially those who are living in poverty will feel its effects. It seems absurd to me that we would short change our public schools and the programs that target underserved youth. We live in one of the most prosperous countries in the developing world and yet we fund schools so poorly. The sequester will further diminish school funding in addition to negatively affecting the economy.
On March 1, 2013, all federally-funded education programs (exempt for the Pell grants) will be slashed by an automatic five percent automatic cut -- across the board for all federal agencies and programs -- in order to achieve an $85 BILLION sequestration spending cut. While I agree that it's vital for the federal government to have fiscal responsibilities, I don't think that we should be making the cuts to children and poor communities that are trying to reach the American Dream through educational opportunities. Education should always be seen as an investment to our economy; it is the engine of our workforce innovation and vitality.
Under the leadership of Governor Gerry Brown, schools and the families and communities that they serve, were offered a glimmer of hope with the passage of Proposition 30. It allowed for schools to once again have some fiscal capacity to have the necessary resources necessary to run a school district, provide for the needs of their students and enhance their school programming. While California is trying to once again reclaim its former claim of educational excellence, the sequester will put a damper on these efforts.
According to the Committee for Education Funding, the following programs and students will be affected in the state of California should the sequester become reality:
* Idea Part B Grants will see a reduction of funds of almost $63,000 and a loss of near 760 staff members.
* Distribution of work Study Reductions by State (Excluding Matching Funds) of nearly seven million dollars affecting almost four thousand recipients.
* Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants will be reduced by almost 17 million dollars which will affect 8,000 recipients.
* Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants will be reduced by four million dollars and not reach almost ten thousands recipients.
* Title One grant funding will take the biggest hit in California. A five percent reduction results in nearly 88 million dollars that won't reach 187,411 students and 1,205 staff members in schools all across California.
My mantra during the time that I have been in Congress has been hope and belief that the American Dream is alive and well. Let's start running our country on this principle of American exceptionalism. I will be urging my colleagues to get a budget agreement when I meet them on the house floor tomorrow. Our children deserve responsible leadership and governance from adults that will affect their experience in the classroom. Let's get it done.