It's still too soon to say how the Toms River's municipal and school district budgets could be impacted by federally proposed sequestration spending cuts, officials said.
Funding for education in New Jersey would be slashed by nearly $30 million and drastic cuts made to health care programs and environmental protection should Congress fail to halt $85 billion in "sequestration" spending cuts scheduled to take hold March 1, the White House said Sunday.
"At this point, we don’t know what the impact of the sequestration will be. If the Federal Government takes away money from FEMA, then that would have a devastating impact, but I haven’t heard anything yet," Mayor Thomas Kelaher said. "Everything is speculation at this point."
School officials are similarly unsure of how the sequester could impact budgeting and programs.
"It is hard to get any solid or definitive information, especially in terms of dollar impact," said Business Administrator William Doering. "This could (and I emphasize - could) impact 2013-14."
Federal grant programs, like Title I, II and IDEA, could be impacted by sequestration, according to Doering.
State aid figures for school districts are expected to be announced by the end of the week, so it is possible those numbers could be modified if Congress approves the spending cuts, according to another county education administrator.
Through sequestration, the federal government would also save $75 million by furloughing 11,000 civilian military contractors, and another $59 million by cutting funding to military bases.
The cuts would include:
- Approximately $11.7 million in funding for primary and secondary education.
- About $17 million in funds for about 210 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.
- Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 1,300 children.
- New Jersey would lose about $4,891,000 in environmental funding, and $472,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.
- Approximately 11,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed.
- Army base operation funding would be cut by about $52 million in New Jersey. Funding for Air Force operations in New Jersey would be cut by about $7 million.
- New Jersey will lose about $336,000 in Justice Assistance Grants.
- Up to 600 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care.
- Around 3,930 fewer children will receive vaccines.
- New Jersey will lose approximately $840,000 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. New Jersey will lose about $2,330,000 in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 3100 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And the New Jersey State Department of Health and Senior Services will lose about $752,000 resulting in around18,800 fewer HIV tests.
- New Jersey could lose up to $187,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 700 fewer victims being served.
- Nutrition Assistance for Seniors: New Jersey would lose approximately $488,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors.
The total federal spending cuts would be about $1.2 trillion over the next nine years. Republicans have accused the president of using the impending cuts for political gain.
President Obama's plan asks for increased tax revenues to offset some of the trillion-dollar cuts.