Sequestration Looms

US CapitolAs reported last semester, UW-Madison will be affected by the drastic effects of sequestration, which appears imminent. The Budget Control Act of 2011 solved the debt-ceiling crisis in August 2011, and a temporary agreement was reached in January, but the $1.2 trillion across-the-board budget cut will begin tomorrow unless another last-minute compromise is reached.

Officials at UW-Madison agree there will be a negative outcome of the almost-certain sequester, but it is difficult to predict how the cuts will affect research and personnel on campus.

According to Rhonda Norsetter, UW-Madison’s director of federal relations, money already awarded would not be taken away, but the university could see $34 million less in federal research grants awarded over the remainder of 2013. The university currently receives about $515 million in federal research money each year.

Nationally, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) estimated that R & D funding could be cut by $57.5 billion over 5 years, a cut of 8.4 percent. Non-defense spending comprises $21.9 billion of the total.  Cuts in 2013 are estimated to be $2.5 billion at the National Institutes of Health and $571 million at the National Science Foundation, which translates into 1,000 fewer research grants, jeopardizing the work of an estimated 12,000 scientists and students.

The cuts will reach Wisconsin students as well. The White House predicts 550 fewer students would receive federal financial aid and 420 fewer students would be eligible for work-study jobs in the state.