The House of Representatives in Washington passed a budget this session that promises to balance the federal budget by 2024.The plan, which promises to save taxpayers over 5 trillion dollars in the next decade.
Congressional republicans passed a budget for 2015 fiscal year, but if enacted this proposed budget would involve deep cuts to many programs local residents have come to depend on such as the Pell Grant.
A Pell grant is money provided by the federal government to students with financial need. But under this budget, up to one million students could lose their Pell grants over the next ten years. The House passed the Ryan budget, after Wisconsin representative and former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Under this plan, Pell Grant funding would also become discretionary instead of mandatory, and could face more cuts in the future. Pell grants are the largest source of financial aid in the country at West Texas A&M University.
â??Just this year, weâ??ve given out eleven million dollars in Pell Grants, and weâ??re just a regional universityâ?? said Jim Reed, the director of financial aid at West Texas A&M University.
Another program that would be cut locally is the AmeriCorps program that has adults around the country working in community service programs. Here locally, AmeriCorps is actively working with at-risk children. The program is coordinated by the Amarillo
â??Weâ??re currently wrapping up our 14th year during that time. We have had just such great success with high school tutors working with students who are at risk,â?? said Jill Humphrey, the program director for AmeriCorps for the Amarillo Independent School District. â??We help them develop literacy skills and help them to catch up to their peers.â??
For now, Ryan bill has only been passed in the House of Representatives, and it is not likely to be passed by the Senate, and even less likely to be signed by the president. Nevertheless, the Ryan bill has become part of the Congressional Republican platform and will probably continue to resurface for quite some time.
â??Thereâ??s always the challenge of where you put your priorities and resources as a nation,â?? said Daniel Garcia, Director of Enrollment Services for West Texas A&M University. â??I think when it comes to education, providing young adults and older adults, or populations who need a degree the opportunity to get a better job and contribute to the economy; I think that ought to be a high priority.â??
These two programs are a reminder that while fiscal discipline in Washington is crucial, budgetary cuts can often be very painful and may affect millions of Americans, and many programs right here in the Panhandle.