If Congress fails to reach a budget deal by the end of the week and $85 billion in "sequestration" spending cuts take effect, the pain will likely be sharpest at the local level, according to Cinnaminson School District Superintendent Salvatore Illuzzi.
A report issued by the White House earlier this week detailed the impact cuts would have on individual states, including nearly $30 million for education in New Jersey, as well as drastic cuts to health care programs and environmental protection.
A big chunk of the money potentially on the chopping block is funding for the special education, particularly the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) program, which mandates that school districts provide education for disabled children.
Illuzzi said Cinnaminson receives $545,000 a year for IDEA. It's unclear exactly how much could be cut if sequestration takes effect, but even a small cut could hurt.
"We're the ones that are going to get hit the hardest over these cuts over which we have no control," said Illuzzi. "Simply because they've taken away the money doesn't mean they've taken away the mandate. If I understand correctly, if the federal government cuts IDEA, then somehow or other that money needs to be made up."
And often the only place to turn for revenue is the taxpayer, he said.
Without action from Congress, the sequester would go into effect automatically on March 1.
Illuzzi said the district is also waiting to see how much state aid it's going to receive this year, which will also obviously impact the budget. .