The drought may have long term unforeseen effects that could deny some students a chance for a college education. As lakes and rivers dry up, so also does tax revenues as sales decline, businesses suffer, and jobs are lost. The effect leaves the coffers of government at all levels also dry.
Many states and local governments are already in debt and do not have the option to deficit spend to keep the money flowing to education at all levels. The federal government is already drowning in a sea of red running a deficit by the end of July of over 950 billion dollars. The deficit is on track to exceed $1.2 trillion for FY2012, leaving the national debt by the start of the next budget year in excess of $16.5 trillion.
Further aid to education from the federal government will be impossible in the new FY2013 budget, if congress is able to pass one, leaving the hardship of reduced revenue to the states. All levels of education are being affected as states struggle to fund colleges, and school districts struggle to keep up with escalating costs of education at the local level.
With less funding this will mean that some students will not get the opportunity to go to college. Programs and classes will have to be cut back to austerity levels. Some ideas being proposed is to cut athletics, extracurricular activities and even teachers raising student teacher levels.
Some states, like California, are already deep in debt and cannot borrow more. With a 16 billion debt Governor Brown has given citizens a choice, drastic cuts in the budget or huge tax increases. California is not alone. Cities like Birmingham, Alabama are facing bankruptcy, which puts pressure on Jefferson County, which is also facing the same fate. This in turn will put pressure on state government. Soon decisions will have to be made to either accept lower levels of funding in all publicly funded areas, or raise taxes as Governor Brown is proposing, or both.
In both cases, this will create hardships and effect the ability of families to support their children in college. The debt epidemic is exacerbated by the drought not only through lower revenues, but by higher costs for suppression of fires, higher electricity costs, and casualty losses from the results of the fires. The perfect storm is descending upon us, unfortunately it doesn’t hold any rain.
Lower revenues, higher costs, lost productivity, reduced funding and fewer jobs means the pressure on families will be even greater in the years ahead. The problems caused by the drought will not be cured in a day, or month, or even in a year. The loss of crops, cattle and other livestock, increased prices of gas and other commodities cannot be cured in the short term. It may take 2-5 years to overcome the negative effects.
All of this will compound the pressure on education that will prevent some from having the opportunity to go to college. The long term effects of reduced numbers of Americans getting an education is a roll back in the eventual standard of living, productivity, high paying jobs, tax revenues and international competitiveness for our products.
Long term this also means less tax revenues, which means a lower ability to fund education and the cycle further spins downward. The drought, if it continues another year, can have long term generational effects on America just like the great depression. The solution will not be found in government, or government actions. It will be found in the heavens, through intervention that once again opens the windows of heaven and brings rain to the continent. The ancient solution to this problem was prayer and fasting. Perhaps now is the time to importune the heavens for relief before we find ourselves in a cycle that could last a decade or longer.