Sequester
3:08 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Idaho One Of Five States That Stand To Lose Most Education Money In Sequester

Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

It’s been several days since the federal spending cuts known as the sequester went into effect, and it’s still unclear how they will impact people’s lives. A report out this week from the Pew Charitable Trust’s Stateline news service says Idaho will be one of the state’s hit hardest by K-12 education cuts.

“Among the states it’s [Idaho] in the top five when it comes to reliance on federal funding for what the state spends on education,” says Jake Grovum who wrote the Stateline article.

Grovum calculated that Idaho gets nearly 21 percent of its education money from the federal government. That’s less than North Dakota in the number one spot, but well above the national average of 13 percent. Grovum doesn’t venture into how the cuts might impact Idaho schools, he just looks at who relies most on federal money.  

“The more reliant you are on funds that are being cut, the higher the possibility that you will feel negative effects from those cuts,” he says.

But Grovum used 2010 data, the most recent he says, available for all the states. In 2010 Idaho cut about $200 million in state spending on education and got an increase in federal money of about the same amount. Much of that federal money is gone now and Idaho has restored some of the state funding. In 2013, about 14 percent of Idaho’s K-12 money came from Washington D.C.

Idaho still faces a 5 percent cut to that under sequestration. But state superintendent Tom Luna says that won’t begin to hit Idaho until next school year. Luna says most school districts are using federal money allocated in 2012, or in some cases even 2011.

Idaho’s Department of Education dozens of federal programs that send money to schools and each has different dates attached. That means money can stay in an account for months, sometimes nearly two years before it becomes part of a school district budget.

Luna says few, if any Idaho schools will run into pots of money affected by the sequester until they’re in their 2013/2014 budgets.

“The impact that will happen if sequestration stays in place, we think it’s going to be minimal,” Luna says. “And districts have plenty of time to manage for it.”

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio