Prof: U to feel deficit impact of sequester

Prof: U to feel deficit impact of sequester

James Curry (left) and Risk Haskell (right) discuss the government sequester and how it will affect the U on Tuesday afternoon at a Hinckley Forum. Michael Sygnatowicz / The Daily Utah Chronicle
James Curry (left) and Risk Haskell (right) discuss the government sequester and how it will affect the U on Tuesday afternoon at a Hinckley Forum.
Michael Sygnatowicz / The Daily Utah Chronicle

Although a 2 percent decrease in the U’s budget seems insignificant, federal cuts to the university will affect students’ education, and deans will have tough decisions to make, said professors at a Hinckley forum on Tuesday.
James Curry, assistant professor in political science, and Rick Haskell, a Ph.D. candidate in economics, spoke about the sequester’s history and how budget cuts will impact the university’s education and administration.
Curry explained the sequestration came about when Congress assigned a bipartisan super committee to come up with an idea to reduce the deficit. Neither party was able to compromise, he said.
“With a completely bipartisan committee, neither side believed that they would necessarily be blamed for the failure,” Curry said.
The sequester, however, was never supposed to be the end goal, but rather the consequence for the super committee of not finding a compromise. It was the “ultimate consequence,” as the hope to avoid the sequester by compromising failed, he said. The consequence, from the perspective of members in Congress, was not severe enough.
To take action in diminishing the sequester, Curry said members of Congress will have to believe if something negative happens, they will be punished for it in the next election.
“Today, the members of the two parties in Congress of Washington, D.C., in general, are highly, highly polarized,” Curry said. “They each represent very different constituencies, and they each represent different people.”
But Haskell said the sequester is definitely a severe consequence, as budget cuts in the U’s Department of Human Services, the Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the National Science Foundation will take place. Overall the U will face a 2.2 percent revenue shortfall for 2014, Haskell said.
“When it comes to these institutions that grant funds, research monies at the U, we know that they’re about to face 5 percent budget cuts for each of the next several years,” he said.
To see change take place, such as diminishing the sequester, Curry said there might have to be an “ultimate clear deadline” with severe consequences to the government and the country. Consequences could include another debt ceiling crisis when only one party is given control of the government.
As an optimist, Curry said he hopes Congress will put in another bipartisan group to do something regarding the deficits.
Alee Holbrook, a junior in political science, agreed the U will see an impact in the budget cuts.
“These deans of these colleges are going to make a tough call,” Holbrook said. “It’s a huge deal, and it may not affect students as much as they think, but the administration cuts will trickle down to the students.”