Sequestration and CSU, February 27, 2013
As anyone who has been following the news from Washington knows, sequestration is scheduled to begin this Friday, pending some last-minute action by Congress to avoid it. The sequester is a package of automatic budget cuts that were previously agreed to by Congress and the White House to go into effect on March 1st in the event they were unable to reach a compromise agreement on a less severe budget and deficit reduction plan. Originally envisioned as a sort of “Sword of Damocles” that would force some sort of compromise, it is now increasingly looking like the sequester could go into effect, at least for a time.
The reason for this message is to let everyone at CSU know that, while we do have federal employees and programs that will be impacted by sequestration, there is no need for any of us to panic. I asked all of our vice presidents and divisions at CSU to begin to map out and plan for this possibility several months ago, when it began to look like this could happen. We’re working closely with our federal Congressional delegation to share as much information as possible and understand all potential impacts.
From what we understand to date, the immediate plans don’t call for any layoffs of federal employees. We expect the greatest impact at CSU will be on our research teams, which could see some impact on hiring of contractors and on grants funded by National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other federal agencies.
Our federally funded laboratories could face cuts of a little over 5 percent, which they’ve been trying to prepare for over the past several months. We also expect there potentially could be some real but manageable cuts in both Extension’s Smith-Lever funds and Hatch funding for the Agricultural Experiment Stations — VP Lou Swanson, Agricultural Sciences Dean Craig Beyrouty, and AES Exec. Director Lee Sommers are in D.C. now to meet with our representatives about these issues.
We don’t anticipate any near-term disruptions to federal financial aid or scholarships. Our federally funded TRIO Programs will be impacted, but under the great leadership of our director, Oscar Felix, they’ve been budgeting and preparing for this for some time in the hopes of minimizing any impact on student services.
Obviously, at this point, there remains a great deal of uncertainty. And some action by the Senate could change all of this tomorrow. But in the meantime, I want to encourage everyone at CSU to breathe deep and not to expend too much energy worrying about this for now — it’s an issue, and there will be some real impacts on all of us, but we’ll work through it along with the rest of the country.
Dr. Tony Frank