The waning hours of March 1 are here as the entire country looks to Washington D.C. and government officials for any news on the sequester that was scheduled for today – even Indian country has an interest.
As budget cuts are to be announced no later than 11:59 p.m. tonight, they are more than likely to have a drastic impact on funding across the board for Indian country.
On February 27, the National Congress of American Indians released its report Analysis of the Sequester: Betraying the Trust Responsibility and Slowing Tribal Progress which highlights many of the areas that will be hit by the sequester. The cuts according to the report that will hit the Department of the Interior could amount to a loss of almost $130 million for tribal programs throughout human services, law enforcement, schools, economic development, and natural resources.
Key statistics projected include:
— A decrease of inpatient admissions by 3,000 by Indian Health Service and outpatients by as much s 804,000
— Elimination of about $60 million for Impact Aid in education – a fund that serves approximately 113,170 Native students. One school example is Gallup McKinley County Public Schools that would lose about $2 million in funding affecting around 6,700 students
— Head Start programs in Indian country could lose around $12 million, while Child Care & Development Block Grants for Tribes would lose around $2.4 million.
— Closing of the poverty gap in Indian country will drastically be slowed. Since 1990, when poverty among reservation American Indians and Alaska Natives, was 51 percent, the number has dropped to 33 percent in 2008. That number increased in 2011 to 40 percent which could be linked to the country’s recession.
NCAI’s report also shares the federal agencies that work with Indian country on the majority of funding that will feel the cuts. They include the Department of the Interior, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, Department of Justice, and Housing and Urban Development.