OMB has just released its report on sequestration, which they were required to do by the Sequestration Transparency Act passed by Congress earlier this summer. (The report is actually about a week late.)
To me, it’s mainly of interest because it provides us with OMB’s best estimate, at this time, as to what the percentage cut will be: 8.2% for nondefense discretionary spending, and 7.6% for nondefense mandatory programs. (Adult education falls under the category of nondefense discretionary spending.) This is based on an assumption that FY 2013 discretionary spending will be at FY 2012 levels (the Act mandated that they do this). For fairly tedious reasons I won’t go into here, that’s not what’s actually going to happen, and so the final percentage cut will actually be a bit different. But we are moving closer towards understanding precisely what the numbers will be.
The report does not break out Adult Education separately. I’m too tired to calculate precise numbers for adult education alone, but without looking anything up, I believe an 8.2% reduction from FY 2012 levels is going to be just shy of $50 million.
Again, bear in mind that there are several other federal programs other than Title II of WIA that fund adult education in the U.S., and all of the estimates I’ve seen only look at WIA Title II. It would be very difficult to figure out with much precision what the combined impact of the cuts to the other programs that fund adult education would be, since these programs do not exclusively fund adult education—and the extent to which they support adult education services may vary from year to year. The point is, any analysis of the impact of sequestration that looks only at WIA Title II is surely underestimating the actual impact that sequestration will have on this field.
I also think that the even bigger danger for adult education funding may lie in possible replacements for sequestration being bandied about, which could conceivably cut even more from nondefense discretionary programs in over to prevent cuts on the the defense side.
By the way, there are pages and pages in this report identifying certain categories of spending as “sequesterable” or not. As a fun weekend sequester-themed activity—and one that might also help get more people talking about the issue—try using the word “sequesterable” in conversation at some point. Here is an example to get you started: “Boy, I am really in a sequesterable mood at the moment—I think I will go and sit in the closet.”