Photo: Ben Smith (flickr)
Indiana universities are calling on Congress to reach a deal before a second round of sequestration budget cuts take effect in January.
After the government shutdown last month, Congress set a Dec. 13 deadline for the budget conference committee to come to a deal.
If they don’t, it could be hard for Congress to pass a budget before additional cuts take effect Jan. 15.
Indiana University already took a hit earlier this year with the first round of sequestration.
IU spokesman Mark Land estimates the university lost $150,000 in federal funding for work study programs that help students pay for college, leading to 75 fewer jobs system-wide.
Research funding has also been affected. Land says much of the research done at the university’s Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses is paid for by federally-funded groups such as the National Institutes of Health, which saw a 5 percent cut.
“Whether or not it catches up with you immediately as a nation, it only stands to reason that if you continue to keeps these cuts into place, it’s going to have a negative effect on very important research that’s going on, not just at IU but around the nation,” Land says.
IU is partnering with Purdue University as well as universities across the state and nation to lobby Congress in hopes lawmakers will move more quickly.
IU President Michael McRobbie wrote an op-ed this week outlining the affects the cuts would have on research universities like IU. University officials have also sent letters to all of Indiana’s Congressional delegation, asking that they vote to approve a budget that would reduce the cuts.
Ninth District Republican Rep. Todd Young’s spokesman Trevor Foughty says Young’s office still hopes Congress will come to an agreement but blames President Obama and the Senate for the impasse.
“For the past few years, including when he served on the Budget Committee, Congressman Young has advocated for — and worked on — plans to replace the President’s across-the-board and indiscriminate sequester cuts with targeted, sensible spending reductions,” he wrote in an email. “Unfortunately, the White House and Senate have not yet agreed to a similar plan and the sequester remains in place.”
Meanwhile, Land says IU is doing what it can to find alternative funding through grants and donations that could be used for research or additional scholarships.
“That money has to come from someplace and, like every other institution, we’re under pressure to keep our costs down,” he says. “Our students already benefit pretty significantly from the generosity of our donors who do make a lot aid available. We still do rely on programs like federal work study to help some of our neediest students. We’re going to do everything we can but it’s going to be a challenge.”