By Steve Spires
Ryan, the presumptive Republican nominee for vice president, is proposing to cut “discretionary” aid to states by 22 percent in 2014 alone, which would translate into a cut of more than $1 billion to Louisiana. These dollars currently help pay for K-12 education, first responders, clean water projects, public health initiatives and other critical needs at the state and local level.
Altogether, Louisiana would lose more than $9.1 billion between 2013 and 2021, according to a new analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The net result would be either deep cuts to basic services, or increased pressure on states and cities to raise taxes to make up the difference:
Cuts of such magnitude would force states and localities to reduce the quality and reach of their basic public systems — their schools, clean water facilities, and law enforcement activities, for example — or raise new revenue or cut other programs to continue meeting these needs. Either way, the result would be a huge cost shift from the federal government to states and localities.
If these cuts become reality, they are likely to fall hardest on the poor, who get a disproportionate benefit from federal spending on education and housing. As the authors note:
Cutting this funding would hurt high-poverty schools the most, since the federal aid is targeted disproportionately to those schools. That could undermine education reform efforts in many states and deepen already disturbing inequities in the educations received by children from families of varying income levels. Heavy cuts to Head Start would deepen these problems further by allowing many thousands of low-income children nationally to start kindergarten less prepared than they otherwise would be.
On top of the discretionary cuts, Ryan’s budget also would slash federal support for the Medicaid program by 34 percent over the next decade. These cuts would be especially difficult in a state with some of the highest levels of poverty and residents who lack health insurance in the country.
The bottom line: Ryan’s budget-blueprint would inflict significant harm on low- and moderate-income families in Louisiana who are still struggling to recover from the recession. A more balanced approach, one that included new revenues and prudent spending cuts, would more adequately protect Louisiana families and the economy.