Democrats

Press

#GOPSequester in the states

The effects of the GOP-forced sequester cuts that took effect at midnight last night stand to hurt middle class families, seniors, children, and our men and women in uniform across the country. Republicans in Congress decided it was better to slash vital services to some of the most vulnerable portions of our population rather than to accept a balanced approach to reducing our deficit, including closing wasteful tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans.

Teachers will be laid off and after school programs cancelled, there will be reductions in treatment and support for mentally ill children, health care for military families will be cut, active duty Army combat brigades will see a reduction of their basic training, maintenance, and readiness, and seniors in need will receive fewer Meals on Wheels. These harmful sequester effects will only continue until the GOP decides to act responsibly and do what the American people have repeatedly made clear they want— to responsibly reduce our deficit while supporting smart investments that will create more jobs and grow the economy from the middle out. 

See below for how this reckless decision by congressional Republicans is playing nationwide:

Arizona

Arizona’s most vulnerable residents in path of budget cuts
The Republic // Mary Reinhart
Automatic across-the-board federal budget reductions, although sparing government’s largest entitlement programs, would cut a painful swath through services for the state’s most vulnerable residents. From child care for low-income working parents to support for the homeless to meals for homebound elderly people, the cuts, known as sequestration, amount to about $140million for Arizona, including at least $30million from the state’s largest social-service agency, the Department of Economic Security, according to state officials. Health and welfare cuts come primarily from an average 5 percent reduction in federal grants, such as those supporting child safety, infants and toddlers with disabilities, immunizations, substance-abuse and mental-health treatment, and emergency support for the poor, including utility payments, food and shelter. Non-profit agency administrators say the reductions will hit organizations already battered by recession-era budget cuts, sagging donations and increased need.

Sequester cuts loom for Head Start program
KVOA Tuscon // Nathan O’Neal
The impact of the automatic federal cuts known as the "sequestration" is far-reaching, including everything from research at universities to programs for children who fall below the poverty line. Congressman Raul Grijalva spoke with Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild on Friday, expressing how real the effects of the sequestration is on southern Arizona. "That research scientist is in the same line as that mom who's trying to get her kid into Headstart. They're both not going to get it," Grijalva said while criticizing Congress' inaction. Headstart in southern Arizona is just one area facing up to $1.2 million in budget cuts, something child advocates say acts like a second blow to an already suffering education system. "When you look at education in Arizona, we're already one of the poorest funded states in the union so i you take out Headstart services...it really futher hurts Arizona," said Maggie Molloy, the Executive Director for Child Parent Centers.

Sequester 2013: Possible sequester effects in Arizona
ABC 15 Phoenix // Angie Holdsworth
The sequester is giving job seekers the "one-two punch," first in terms of unemployment benefits and second in job training. Nicole Moon, spokesperson for the Department of Economic Security tells ABC15 that weekly benefits amounts will be reduced by 10 to 22 percent depending on when the reductions are implemented. No reductions will be implemented before March 31st. The maximum payment in Arizona is $240 per week.  Federal tax will take another 10 percent of the money and state tax will take another $2. Claimants will receive a 15-day notice prior to the reductions.   "It is concerning," said Christopher Hotchkiss who has been looking for work for several months. He was laid off last year from an engineering job. "People don't think it is much but it helps. It is hard to stretch it much farther." The US Department of Labor, during a conference call with states this morning, provided some guidelines on sequestration-related reductions to the Extended Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program.

Sequester cuts ripple across state
YourWestValley // Mitchell Vantrease
Count Kim Surritt among the Arizonans bracing for federal spending cuts that will take effect today barring compromise between President Barack Obama and the House Republican leadership over a plan to reduce the national debt. Surritt owns Kim’s Custom Tailor, which is across the street from Luke Air Force Base in Glendale. “I rely a lot on the people at the base. If they get their jobs cut or a pay cut, that could affect my shop as well,” she said. The White House estimates that in Arizona 10,000 civilian defense workers could be forced to take unpaid time off because of the mandatory budget reductions known as the “sequester.” Obama administration officials also said Arizona will see program cuts in senior nutrition, student work-study jobs and assistance for victims of domestic violence. Some of Arizona’s high-profile losses would include $49 million in Army and Air Force operations and $52 million in lost pay for furloughed Department of Defense employees.

Arizona military bases brace for sequestration
KJZZ // Steve Shadley
Arizona’s military bases are preparing for the federal budget axe under sequestration. Officials at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale said they’ll significantly reduce flying that is not related to pilot training.  Luke spokeswoman Holly Slaughter says the sequestration triggers furloughs for some civilian workers at the base. She said the furloughs may last for up to 22 days and would happen sometime before September. “For us here at Luke we have about 850 of our civilian employees who would be impacted by that. For them that amounts to about a 20 percent reduction in salary over that period and would equate to about $6.5 million," she said. Slaughter said training of F-16 pilots at Luke will be dramatically reduced in the next few weeks.

Connecticut

Democratic Legislators Speak Out Against 'Dumb' Sequester Cuts
Housatonic Times // Mark Zaretsky
The heavy-handed cuts wrought by the “sequester” in the wake of Congress’ failure to reach a budget agreement by its self-imposed deadline are the wrong way to fix things, Connecticut’s two senators and Greater New Haven’s congresswoman said Friday. “Here’s the bottom line: these are dumb cuts. These are thoughtless cuts and they ought to be reversed,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., during a press conference at Tweed New Haven Regional Airport. The airport is among the many things thatcould be affected by sequester cuts, in Tweed’s case cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration. Tweed is “an economic powerhouse” that creates $20 million in economic activity, he said.

Hunger growing as nutrition funding cuts mean less food for needy
West Hartford News // Ed Stannard
One in seven Connecticut residents could not afford food for themselves or their families in 2012, according to a new report by the Food Research and Action Center, as $201,000 in federal nutrition funds for the state are among the budget cuts that went into effect Friday because of the so-called “sequester.”

Washington's failure will hurt our hometowns
Connecticut Post // Scott Bates
The failure of the United States Congress to do its job and agree to a spending plan is setting into motion a process that will hammer our hometown budgets and throw Connecticut back into recession. The process, called sequestration, was designed as way to encourage a long-term fix to the federal budget. In the scope of American history, sequestration is a rare thing: a law so devastating that it was never intended to actually get implemented. Created as safeguard against congressional gridlock, it would cause across-the-board spending reductions for the entire federal government, slashing funding for everything from firefighters to aircraft carriers. If fully implemented (and it is looking increasingly like it will be), sequestration will cut the social safety net, cripple national security and put people out of work. It can only be averted if Congress comes to agreement on the level of taxes and spending necessary tokeep the federal government solvent. Now, the nightmare has arrived and theeffect on Connecticut -- and Fairfield County in particular -- will be devastating.


Colorado

Sequester means cuts to Colorado health, medical programs
Denver Post // Michael Booth
Sequestration will pare millions of dollars from Colorado Medicare payments, medical research, pure lab science and doctor education in coming months, local health officials said Friday. As a result, there could eventually be longer waiting times for elderly hospital patients, fewer childhood vaccinations, and roadblocks for groundbreaking research proposals. Hospitals face some of the most tangible near-term problems, as the sequester cuts Medicare spending by 2 percent. The Colorado Hospital Association estimates a loss of $35 million at state hospitals in the first year if cuts remain. With other trims of hospital spending in the Affordable Care Act, and proposals to cut rural hospital subsidies, the sequester is a direct threat to small, rural hospitals, said CHA president Steven Summer. "There are some so dependent on Medicare and Medicaid that it could threaten their long- term viability," Summer said.

Local impacts of $85 billion in federal budget cuts still unclear
Aspen Daily News // Andrew Travers
Local ramifications of the forced across-the-board federal budget cuts, known as “sequestration,” are likely to be felt in the forest and at the airport. The $85 billion in automatic spending cuts became law Friday, as federal lawmakers failed to pass new budget legislation. The sequester’s impacts will play out over the coming weeks and months, as local federal employees and resources are trimmed. Exactly where and when they’ll hit Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley remains unclear to federal officials in Colorado. In a letter regarding the sequester’s impact on the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the U.S. Forest Service, Secretary Tom Vilsack said an estimated 670 forest sites nationwide would close due to the sequester. Those would include campgrounds, picnic areas, trails, and visitor centers.

What can Colorado expect from sequestration?
KOAA // Tony Spehar
The possibility of furlough days and staffing cuts is a concern for government employees in Fremont County, most work in corrections facilities. "The inmate population doesn't go home for the weekend, doesn't go home for a couple of days of furlough, we don't shut-down we, never shut-down," explained Mike Snobrich with the American Federation of Government Employees. "We need to maintain the safety and security of these institutions." With around $40-billion in cuts coming out of Defense Department spending Fort Carson and other military instillations are also looking at scaling back. The Mountain Post will have to furlough each of their 3,000 civilian employees one day a week starting in April. Commanders have expressed their concern that furlough days will affect services for soldiers and their families as well as training and readiness.

Workforce Boulder County: Effects of Sequester will be felt heavily in coming year
Longmont Times Call // Tony Kindelspire
Training and job search assistance will take the biggest hit, according to the CDLE. According to data compiled by Cher Haavind, the CDLE's director of communications, 10 percent fewer people will have access to training through the federal Employment and Training Grant known as the Workforce Investment Act. Last year, 9,579 adults and low-income youths in Colorado received this training. Basic job search assistance funds would also be reduced by about 10 percent. Last year 500,000 Coloradans, including veterans, received job search assistance. The CDLE said that staffing cuts could be a possibility, meaning less one-on-one job counseling and case management.

Delaware

Delaware HIV testing money at risk with federal spending cuts
Delaware State News // Jen Rini
The additional federal funding cuts to HIV testing in Delaware just adds another blow to the state’s already wilting public health funding.If Congress fails to act to stop the $85 million sequestration package from kicking in today, there will be across-the-board spending cuts in education, senior services and public health. More than $70,000 will be sliced from the state’s public health division funding, resulting in a loss of 1,800 HIV tests.Mr. Dickinson said in a state as small as Delaware, the loss of 1,800 HIV tests would prove to be detrimental. As of January, 3,786 Delawareans are iving with HIV or AIDS, and there are potentially 800 individuals in the state living with HIV without knowing they have the disease.Sometimes you think 1,800 tests, maybe doesn’t sound like a lot, but if that’s 1,800 tests in a high risk area in which there’s likely to be unknown cases of infection that means that’s 1,800 chances that you're missing a new infection,” Mr. Dickinson said. Amelia Auner, vice president of public affairs with Planned Parenthood of Delaware said between April 2011 and March 2012 the organization performed 800 HIV tests. If the cuts go into affect, she said the state’s social safety nets will be dealt an uncertain, but significant, blow in a year Planned Parenthood is looking at expanding its HIV testing.“We don’t know what this is going to look like down the road,” she said. “It is scary and it can impact how we do the preventive work in the community.”

Sequester hits home for seniors, children
Cape Gazette // Kara Nuzback
As the federal government struggles to address $85 billion in spending cuts, set to take effect Friday, March 1, officials in Delaware are weighing the impact sequestration will have on public health, schools and the state’s economy. Public health officials say sequestration could mean higher costs for the state and federal government in the long term.“ We’re making people more vulnerable,” said Delaware Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf. The White House report says federal cuts would mean $201,000 less to provide meals for Delaware seniors.  “Sussex County in particular has a large senior population,” Landgraf said. She said if seniors are eliminated from the program, they could be forced into nursing homes, funded by Medicaid, which would cost the federal government far more than paying to deliver meals so seniors could remain in their homes. Landgraf said programs like Meals on Wheels might need to start a waiting list.  “Or, they don’t get a meal a day,” she said.  “If you’re hungry, you can’t put that off.” In a Feb. 27 statement, Randy Nelson, marketing director for CHEER, said if sequestration occurs, Meals On Wheels funding under the federal Older Americans Act faces a minimum 8.8 percent across-the-board reduction in Delaware.


Florida

Opa-locka, Perry airport towers to close under sequestration
Miami Herald // Michael Finch II & Douglas Hanks
Corporate jets would be on their own under a plan to close control towers at South Florida’s smaller airports to save federal transportation dollars under automatic spending cuts that kicked in Friday.Towers at the Opa-locka Airport in Miami-Dade and North Perry Airport in Broward would go dark in April, leaving private pilots to navigate themselves to the runways without help from air-traffic controllers, according to officials in the two counties. The airports are popular with corporate jets, owners of private planes and others who fly aircraft too small to use Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood.The closures are part of a nationwide plan by the Department of Transportation to pull controllers from small airports as the Federal Aviation Administration cuts $600 million from its $48 billion budget. The FAA cuts are a small part of the $85 billion set to drop out of the national budget this year under the so-called “sequestration” regimen approved by the White House and Congress in 2011. Henderson said private jets would likely shift to the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, which is not on the list of 189 towers scheduled to be closed by the FAA starting on April 1. Tamiami, an airport popular with private pilots, also isn’t on the list. Along with daily flight operations, the pending cutbacks have companies throughout South Florida’s aviation industry speculating how they’ll operate without a fully-staffed FAA.“It’s going to cause some real problems,” said Matthew Winer, director of Jet Management Associates, a Miami Beach firm that acquires and manages private jets for clients who want to charter their aircraft when not in use. The cutbacks would delay safety inspections of charter planes, Winer said, since some screenings require sign-off by three different FAA employees. The process that can take anywhere from two weeks to a few months under regular circumstances, and the looming cuts have Winer bracing for much longer waits. “Every day that you don’t have a plane on charter, you’re going to lose money,” Winer said.

Sequestration: How Southwest Florida might be affected
News Press // Staff
Southwest Florida officials say they are unsure how they’ll be impacted by the sequester, and only time will tell. It’s not known if or when the 2,400 federal employees in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area and 600 in the Naples-Marco Island will be furloughed.The federal government warned it might have to close the region’s three small airports and travelers at Southwest Florida International Airport could face delays. Neither Everglades National Park nor Sanibel’s J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge have plans to adjust park hours. Both parks already have a hiring freeze.The federal automatic budget cuts would affect Title I programs for students from low-income families, Head Start, teacher training and recruitment and special education programs, but many federal funds arrive through the state for school districts, which means that funding is often pushed ahead a year.Florida will lose about $5 million in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 4,500 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. Southwest Florida health centers and public health agencies say they expect little immediate impact from automatic budget cuts. But, prolonged, they would affect services. Lee Memorial Health System, which operates 95 percent of the hospital beds in Lee County, would lose an estimated $6.5 million from Medicare if the cuts stay in place for a year, according to its budget planners.

Education, airport services could be hit by sequester cuts
St Augustine Record // Stuart Korfhage
Now that the president and Congress are unable to restructure the current budget impasse, county residents are going to the effects of the sequester cuts in a variety of ways. One of the toughest to absorb could be the loss of $631,000 of federal money — about 5 percent of the overall budget — by the St. Johns County School District. While the crunch won’t be felt until the 2013-14 school year, the absence of funds from Washington will hurt because a big chunk of the money goes to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), $311,000, and Title I aid for schools with a high percentage of poor students, $174,000.“It’s taking away money from students who need it most,” said Mike Degutis, the chief financial officer for  the school district. If it becomes clear that those funds will not be restored, the local school board will have to decide whether to attempt to fund the programs with local money or curtail services. Superintendent Joseph Joyner said school district employees need to know soon whether they are going to have the federal money.“The disappointing part of that is it hits the most vulnerable population of students,” he said. “I hope some resolution can be made to sort of hold the education part of (budget cuts) harmless.”

Illinois

Sequester threatens $38M in Illinois medical research funding
Chicago Tribune // Peter Frost
Illinois' academic medical centers and researchers will lose $38 million in federal funding and be forced to cut more than 700 jobs over the next seven months because of automatic budget cuts triggered Friday by Congressional inaction. Mary Hendrix, the president and scientific director of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago Research Center, said that if a 5.1 percent funding cut to the National Institutes of Health stretches long term, "it would likely set back medical science an entire generation." The budget cuts are part of the phenomena called "sequestration," the result of inability by Congress to craft a bipartisan deficit-reduction deal. The NIH, the federal grantmaker that funds a significant portion of the country's academic medical research, must absorb a $1.6 billion cut to its budget, forcing it to reduce payments on existing grants, hold off on awarding new research awards and slash the number of future grants. At the children's hospital research center, four grants worth $4.6 million scheduled to start on April 1 are in jeopardy, Hendrix said.


Indiana

Local schools remain unclear on impact of sequestration cuts
Evansville Courier Press // Megan Erbacher
Nationwide, the Office of Management and Budget calculated the federal sequester will mean 70,000 young children lose access to Head Start, 10,000 teacher jobs will be at risk and funding for up to 7,200 special education teachers, aides and staff could be cut. According to calculations of the Obama administration, the sequester will impact Indiana in a number of ways, this year alone, including a loss of roughly $13.8 million in funding for primary and secondary education. That will place the jobs of 190 teachers and aides at risk and about 12,000 fewer students will be served and 50 fewer schools will receive funding. Access to early education will be reduced by 1,000 children being eliminated from Head Start and Early Head Start services. Faculty for children with disabilities will lose about $12.4 million in funds. Low-income students who receive aid to help finance the costs of higher education will be reduced to about 2,170, and around 1,020 fewer students will get work-study jobs to help pay for college. “The sequestration itself is blind cuts,” Armstrong said. “It’s a blanket statement, every program gets cut, and they’re not taking into account the need of the program, the efficiency of the program. They’re just saying we can’t solve this like we were supposed to.”

Kansas

Sequestration Could Affect Forbes Field
WIBW // By: Sarah Plake
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Similar to the fiscal cliff issue, lawmakers in Washington failed to decide on the sequestration issue, the deadline passing. Federal agencies across the country could feel the setbacks if the $83 billion in cuts goes through for the fiscal year 2013. The sequester was originally set to compel congress to balance the budget. The cuts would mean significant changes to Forbes Field in Topeka. More traffic goes in and out of there than some may think. The air traffic tower at Forbes Field already operates nightly without a controller. With lawmakers in Washington up in the air about a decision for budget cuts, sequestration could mean no controller - ever. Eric Johnson, President of Metropolitan Topeka Airport Authority, and said getting rid of a controller wasn't something he planned. "This is certainly not our idea," he said. "It's not something I want to see happen, but we're talking about 238 airports across the country that this is a possibility." Airports all across Kansas will hear from the Federal Aviation Administration as to whether their tower will close. According to Wells Fargo, Kansas is among the states most affected by the sequester. Governor Sam Brownback said cuts will affect the entire state. "It'll have an impact, there's no question about it," he said. "I think you're going to see the federal government wrestle with this for the next five years."


Maine

Maine's slice of the sequester pie: Just how bad will it taste?
Kennebec Journal // Kevin Miller
Maine's public school districts would lose about $7.3 million, according to the Maine Department of Education. Roughly $2.8 million would come from programs for students with disabilities, while another $2.7 million would be cut from programs that support remedial math and reading. According to White House estimates, those cuts could cost 70 teachers and staff their jobs.

Kentucky

How Sequester Cuts Will Affect Kentucky
WTVQ // Ian Preston
Of the 85 billion that will be cut in federal spending tens of millions will be lost here in the Commonwealth. Experts are still figuring out how much exactly will be cut for Kentucky, one thing is certain many different types of agencies will be tightening their belts over the next seven months.According to the White House Kentucky will lose about 11 million for primary and secondary education.Another 122 million for army base operations funds, Which will include cuts at the Bluegrass Army Depot, and hundreds of thousands of dollars for everything from food safety to low income housing.Here in Lexington, the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program says they've been told to expect about a 5 percent cut in their funding.Program Director Darlene Thomas says that will mean some of those vital programs to help families get their lives back on track, will have to be dropped.The sequester will begin Saturday , but many of the programs including the the domestic violence program will have another month before they lose their funding.


Maryland

Letterkenny Army Depot braces for federal budget cuts fallout
Herald Mail // Roxann Miller
Franklin County’s largest employer braced itself for the fallout from the federal budget cuts set to go into effect Friday.Letterkenny Army Depot Commander Col. Victor S. Hagan Sr. made a statement to the depot work force that a work furlough of up to 22 nonconsecutive days would begin the week of April 22 and could continue through September if an agreement is not reached.Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Congress on Feb. 20 that if automatic government spending cuts — called a “sequester” — kick in on March 1, he might have to shorten the workweek for the “vast majority” of the Defense Department’s 800,000 civilian workers.Letterkenny’s 4,000 workers could lose one day of work per week or 20 percent of their pay as a result of sequestration.“While we may have no control over sequestration, there are actions that you can start doing right now to prepare for its impact,” Hagan said.Depot leadership and union partners are developing a Furlough Implementation Plan and will host a Financial Health Workshop and Wellness Fair in the next few weeks to encourage employees to review personal finances in the event of a 20 percent reduction in salary each pay period, he said.“We now find ourselves in the midst of a perfect storm created by a continuing resolution that puts funding in the wrong places, a shortfall in funds for overseas contingency operations due to higher than anticipated costs in theater, and sequestration,” Hagan said.

CNS: Sequester could divert Salisbury commercial air traffic to BWI
The Daily Times, Salisbury News // Staff
In the wake of automatic spending cuts that began Friday, regional airports in Maryland including the Salisbury-Ocean City: Wicomico Regional Airport could see air traffic control towers shut down, which could divert their commercial air traffic to BWI Airport. Spending cuts also could result in longer lines at airport security checks if Congress doesn’t agree on a way to reduce the budget, according to Maryland politicians who gathered at Maryland’s busiest airport. Maryland’s regional airports could see air traffic control towers shut down April 1, which could divert their commercial air traffic to BWI. In addition to Salisbury, airports that could be affected include Frederick Municipal Airport, Easton Municipal Airport, Hagerstown Airport and Martin State Airport. Sequester will cause a significant impact in Maryland -- 5.6 percent of Marylanders work for the federal government, compared to an average of 2 percent nationwide. Affected agencies will have to cut eight to 10 percent of their current budget between now and the end of this fiscal year, because the sequester is based on a department’s annual budget, Cardin said.“That’s another devastating impact on our national defense readiness and on our domestic budget,” Cardin said.Of the $1 billion in transportation spending cuts required due to sequestration this fiscal year, $600 million will come from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Massachusetts

Tierney: 'Sequester' cuts to hit elderly first
Newburyport News //
Federal funds for senior centers and Meals on Wheels — subsidized meals that are delivered to the doorsteps of needy seniors — “will be the first areas hit by this,” Tierney said. It’s estimated that nationally, about 5 percent of the Meals on Wheels budget will be cut. Tierney, a Salem Democrat, criticized a large bloc of conservative Republicans in the House for failing to allow for a compromise. There are many Republicans who want to work out a solution, Tierney said, but they are a minority compared to the bloc. “We have a continuing problem with about 177 of them running the (Republican) caucus and stoppingthings up,” he said. In the House, there are 232 Republicans, 200 Democrats and three empty seats.


Michigan

Sequester could delay Michigan's first bus rapid transit line, Grand Rapids officials worry
MLive // Zane McMillion
Michigan's first bus rapid transit line is at the mercy of looming federal spending cuts known as sequestration, worrying Grand Rapids transit officials who plan to begin work on the project this spring.Peter Varga, CEO of The Rapid, told the Grand Rapids-area bus system's Board of Directors on Wednesday, Feb. 27, the broad cuts set to trigger Friday might mean a hold-up $14.4 million in federal funding pledged to the project this year. The nearly $40 million bus rapid transit Silver Line is scheduled to begin service in mid-2014, and will be the state's first such system. Once complete, the Silver Line will ferry passengers between 60th Street in Wyoming to downtown Grand Rapids in 40 percent less time than a traditional bus." You should understand that the sequester affects us," Varga told the Interurban Transit Partnership Board on Wednesday. Transportation department staff likely would be furloughed and projects reprioritized, "which means delivery of our many grant programs may face unneeded delays," LaHood wrote. Some $15 million in federal and state dollars already have been appropriated to the Silver Line's construction, Varga said. The next batch of funding, to the tune of $14.4 million, could be held up by sequestration because it is attached to the federal general fund, Varga said.


Minnesota

Minnesotans are bracing for smaller slice of federal pie
Minneapolis Star Tribune // Rochelle Olson
There’s the elderly woman with a paid companion to drive her for errands once a week; a Minneapolis mother who gets help buying fresh fruit; the air traffic controller facing a weekly furlough day; a military family stationed overseas. These are some of the Minnesotans wrestling with uncertainty as $85 billion in federal budget cuts, including hundreds of millions of dollars in Minnesota, began taking effect Friday. The impact won’t be immediate, but many already feel the anxiety. “We need to see how the federal government plays out these cuts. We haven’t gotten a lot of guidance,” said Charles Johnson, chief financial officer at the state Department of Human Services. From a distance, some cuts may not look severe. Hennepin County’s Human Services and Public Health Department, for example, could lose $1.1 million from $465 million in annual federal funds. But many of the agencies facing reductions have run lean for years in a down economy, and the cuts would be felt, they say.

Sequestration begins, local agencies brace themselves
Post Bulletin // Staff
In Rochester, the Head Start and Early Head Start programs look likely to face cuts as high as 8 percent, which would mean reducing the 442 children served by about 36, said Patrick Gannon, executive director of Child Care Resource & Referral. The program has a waiting list, Gannon said, so the cuts are going in the "wrong direction." "There's a greater need than we can fulfill, and if we cut back there will be fewer families served," Gannon said. "It's a grave concern of ours, and we were hoping against hope that people in Congress will do their job."

Federal budget cuts likely will hit Minnesota gradually
Wadena Pioneer Journal // Don Davis
Minnesotans may not know what the word means, but as of Thursday they began to feel the impact of automatic and deep federal budget cuts known as “sequestration.” No one knows for sure how Minnesotans will be affected, but there is widespread agreement it will be felt. U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., was among those predicting long lines at airports, less thorough food processing plant inspections and some Head Start children being dropped from the program. “It’s not pretty, and it doesn’t make sense,” Franken said. As March marches on, however, the public will understand sequestration better and pressure politicians to fix the problem, said U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn. “My guess is that as the month proceeds and people realize the foolhardiness of this thing, it will be brought before the House,” Nolan said.

Mississippi

Mississippi bracing for furloughs, ed program cuts
Clarion Ledger // By: Deborah Berry
WASHINGTON — Mississippi stands to lose millions in education funding under sequestration budget cuts that were set to take effect Friday. “We could suffer the loss of funding for some important education programs and that would be unfortunate,’’ said Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, who has pushed for federal funding of education programs. Primary- and secondary-school programs in Mississippi are expected to lose $5 million, which will affect 20 schools serving 12,000 students, according to a White House report. A program that employs 70 staffers to help children with disabilities also will lose $6 million, the report says. Education is just one area that will suffer as a result of the cuts.


Missouri

Congress Must Do Its Job
St. Louis Post Dispatch Letter to the Editor
Reading Dana Milbank’s column Feb. 27, “Do-Nothing House Republicans,” I am infuriated at the continuing insult by U.S. representatives to reasonable expectations that they do their jobs and address the sequester. The name-calling and congressional inactivity are embarrassing. Frantic outreach efforts are being mounted by advocacy organizations trying to get our legislators’ attention about the devastation that sequestration will cause. Like me, thousands of people have emailed and called our representatives imploring them to do something. Some argue that it won’t hurt much to have these cuts take effect, so their passivity is harmless. I disagree. In particular, I deplore the effect the slash in funding will have on local health care. Our safety net for the working poor and uninsured, the Federally Qualified Health Centers, will likely feel the cuts two ways: first, with up to a 7.8 percent cut to federal dollars that are used for operations; second, with the rollback or elimination of grant funding from local agencies dependent on federal funding. The ax could fall on services for maternal and child health, homeless health and mental health. At a minimum, the wait for care could be longer, resulting in more illness, lower productivity at work and higher use of emergency rooms when primary care is no longer readily accessible. We should not ask people needing care to wait until blame or credit for their circumstances is assigned. It no longer matters how we got into this mess; just fix it.

Head Start, IDEA most heavily affected by budget cuts
The Examiner//Kelly Evanson
Automatic federal funding cuts could mean fewer slots available for Head Start and early education. Independence Deputy Superintendent Dale Herl said the effect on the Independence School District and others throughout the country is “huge.” Missouri could lose almost $23 million in education funding. The cuts would primarily affect what are called “entitlement programs.” These are programs such as Title I, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Head Start, among others. For Independence, it means an estimated loss of $740,000 per year in federal funding. However, under the "sequestration" plan, the cuts to public schools would not take effect until the 2013-14 school year. What would be impacted immediately is the Federal Impact Aid program, which provides federal funding to districts near federal land such as military bases.

Budget cuts could close two Truman sites
The Examiner//Adrianne Deweese
The historic sites of Independence’s most beloved resident won’t likely be immune to the effects of sequestration. Friday marked the deadline for automatic fiscal reductions, although a specific date is unknown as to when the cuts would affect the Harry S Truman National Historic Site, said Larry Villalva, the site’s superintendent. The Independence site receives specific orders from the National Park Service regional office in Omaha, Neb., which receives direction from the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Truman Home at 219 N. Delaware St. could close on Sundays and Mondays, as well as 10 federal holidays a year. Across the street in Independence, the newly renovated Noland Home, in addition to the Truman Farm Home in Grandview, could close their doors completely to visitors. It’s going to be a very dramatic impact, especially those very large national park crown jewels that the public attends in the millions,” Villalva said. “None of those will be exempt from sequestration. It’s not something that we think will happen – it’s something we know will happen.”

Nevada

Nevada stands to lose $40M if fed cuts linger
AP //
Nevada stands to lose $40 million in federal dollars if automatic budget cuts set to kick in at midnight Friday extend through September, with most of the hit being taken by education, public safety and some health and human services programs, Gov. Brian Sandoval said Thursday."We think the significance has been a concern for all Nevadans," Sandoval told reporters in a late afternoon briefing. The first-term Republican said he's still hopeful for a resolution in Congress to avoid the $85 billion in broad-based federal spending reductions known as the sequester.

Nevadans already affected by sequestration
Reno Gazette Journal //
The across-the-board cuts to both government defense and domestic spending will make it harder for Nevada medical researchers, small business owners and airport employees to do their jobs. “The science is difficult anyway,” said James Kenyon, senior associate dean for research at the University of Nevada School of Medicine. “We’re used to difficult. What (the sequester) makes it for us is very frustrating because we would like to be doing this research that has been identified as highly meritorious by our peers.” Nevada receives about $20 million a year from the federal National Institutes of Health for research. About $18 million of it goes to the medical school based in Reno. Current research projects include mechanisms in male infertility, development of a cure for muscular dystrophy, investigation of heart disease and several neuroscience studies.


New Jersey

N.Y.-N.J. Sandy Aid May Drop in Sequester, Menendez Says
Bloomberg // Terrence Dopp and Elise Young
Across-the-board federal spending cuts that began yesterday may block as much as $2.5 billion in Hurricane Sandy relief for New York and NewJersey, according to the Garden State’s junior U.S. senator. About $1 billion may be taken from Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster-relief funds, the main source for FEMA help for individuals and communities, said Paul Brubaker, a spokesman for Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat. Another $1.5 billion may be held out of block grants and transportation funding, Brubaker said. “The effects of sequestration will be seen in various ways where the federal government has a role,” Brubaker said by telephone yesterday. “This is going to be a snowball effect.”

NJ Congressmen Decry Cuts’ Impact on Air Travel
AP //
Sen. Robert Menendez and Reps. Frank Pallone, Bill Pascrell and Donald Payne appeared at Newark Liberty International Airport Friday afternoon to discuss cuts they say will reducesafety and increase delays. Pallone said air traffic control towers at smaller airports would have to be closed and that commercial flights would be delayed or canceled due to a shortage of air traffic controllers. Federal officialshave said that the automatic budget cuts going into effect Friday will force aviation and homeland security personnel at airports to take furloughs, though many won’t face that prospect for at least a month.

New Jersey Environment Will Feel Sequester
WFUV // Kris Venezia
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection stands to lose close to $5 million in federal cuts due to the  sequester.  Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said this means less money for clean water, air quality, and pollution prevention. He also said that state parks will have to close down or cut back their hours. "[There will be] the limiting of hours in some of the recreational areas," Tittel said. "[Then] in a couple of months, you'll see even more cutbacks and places close. It won't happen overnight, but it will be a couple months to really see the full impact [of the budget cuts]," Tittel said.

New Mexico

Furlough to impact more than 2,000 employees at Kirtland Air Force Base
KOAT ABQ // Staff
Sequestration is no longer a political scare tactic -- it's now a reality for thousands of New Mexicans. Starting in April, more than 2,100 civilian employees at Kirtland Air Force Base will be impacted by forced furloughs, resulting in a 20 percent cut to their paychecks.  Col. Jeff Lanning said the cuts "will affect us all across the board." Some of the civilian jobs include firefighters and workers who specialize in helping families adjust to life on the base. "They include a lot of Americans who are doing  great things," Lanning said. The employees have already been informed that furloughs will take effect in early April.

Sequestration: White Sands Missile Range workers brace for furloughs
Las Cruces Sun News // Steve Ramirez
It was — but it wasn't — a regular work day Friday at White Sands Missile Range. After weeks of debate but no action in Congress, sequestration began. Many of WSMR's 6,517 civilian Department of Defense and government contractor employees wondered what will be required to implement the federally mandated reduction in national defense spending. In its simplest terms, sequestration likely means all of those employees face as many as 22 days of unpaid furlough. How and when it all starts to happen is not yet certain. "We still don't know any more than we did yesterday or last week," said Monte Marlin, WSMR spokeswoman. "WSMR is, and will continue to be, about people who do the mission tasked to them, and we will continue to march. There is a lot of apprehension here. But we're going to do what we have to do within the confines, whatever those may be."


New York

Sequester could cut more than $400,000 in the fight against Domestic Violence in New York State
WHEC // Joangel Concepcion
“Funding for non residential services should not be taken out of the New York State budget. There are more people like me with no where to turn and no answers,” said a victim of domestic violence. On the heels of this event,  news of sequester cuts threatensome of the most vulnerable people in our community. The state could lose more than $400-thousand in funding that aid victims of domestic violence. That means 1,600 abuse victims won't receive much needed help. The numbers trouble those who see the affects of domestic violence every day, like Jaime Saunders, the CEO of Alternatives for Battered Women. “Its an across the board issue, it's a community health issue. So not having all of these supports in place, it puts everyone at risk.” Saunders says, the sequester cuts will hurt the support system created for victims of domestic violence.

Ohio

Sequestration cuts will shortchange students, universities
Columbus Dispatch // Encarnacion Pyle
The poorest students could lose grants and work-study money allowing them to go to college. Research that leads to discoveries in medicine and agriculture and to breakthroughs that bolster the country’s defense and national security could be slowed or altogether derailed. And public universities that have medical colleges and hospitals could lose millions of Medicare dollars, negatively affecting patients, doctors and medical students. That’s what several Ohio college leaders say could happen after President Barack Obama and congressional leaders failed to reach a deal to avoid across-the-board spending cuts. Congress went home for the weekend on Thursday without a plan to avert or postpone the cuts — a year and a half in the making — despite the introduction of several last-minute bills. “We’re preparing for the worst-case scenario while hoping for the best case,” said Caroline Whitacre, Ohio State University’s vice president for research. Ohio State is preparing for cuts in federal research money of between $27 million and $133 million in 2013. About $470 million of the $934 million that the university spent on research in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30 came from the federal government. More troubling to colleges is the potential impact on needy students who depend on federal grant money and work-study aid to pay for school.Ohio State stands to lose $113,222 in federal work-study money and $62,433 in grant money that would affect more than 200 of the school’s neediest students, according to estimates compiled by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.“It’s sad because it will hit the students whose families don’t have the resources to make up the loss,” said Diane Stemper, OSU’s financial-aid director.

Sequester squeeze: After Build America, budgets fear a vise-like pinch
Cincinnati Ohio News  //Denise Smith Amos
In the depths of the Great Recession, the federal government put in its stimulus package a new program to encourage local governments, school districts, colleges and public agencies to finance big capital projects that could employ lots of people and keep the sputtering economy from wallowing. It worked. The Build America program in 2009 and 2010 was tapped by public entities that issued bonds to pay for everything from new research and hospital buildings to sewer system improvements. The appeal: The federal government subsidized 35 percent of the bonds’ interest costs. But sequestration is expected to cut those subsidies, leaving local governments and schools, including many in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, with higher-than-expected financing costs, at a time when many schools and governments are making other cuts to their own budgets. “It is a big deal,” said John Merchant, managing partner of the Cincinnati office of Peck, Shaffer & Williams, which handles public financing and consults with local governments and schools. “The benefit of the Build America bargain was getting federal government help with financing infrastructure projects that were shovel-ready. Now they’re saying ‘We’re going to cut back on our help with your debt service.’” By some estimates, Cincinnati-area government agencies and schools borrowed about $839.3 million using Build America Bonds, while Northern Kentucky entities borrowed $262 million using the bonds. The 7.6 percent sequestration budget reduction is expected to reduce the subsidy on the Build America Bonds from 35 percent of the interest payments to 32.3 percent. This equates to an increase in net expenses for local schools and governments of 2.7 percent of the interest on these bonds. That will total $255 million for the $181 billion in Build America Bonds issued nationwide between April 2009 and December 2010.

Spending cuts mean local uncertainty
WDTN // Jackie Sprague
Those federal budget cuts known as sequestration are expected to hit the Miami Valley hard. The President just authorized the beginning of $85 billion in federal spending cuts late Friday night. It would mean thousands of civilian workers here at Wright Patterson Air Force Base could be forced to take 22 unpaid furlough days. "I'm looking at that young mother who is a single parent and knowing she's going to endure a 20% pay cut.  For some of us, we are more easily going to be able to absorb that.  For her, it's just rally going to be rough," says Jene Curell, Chief of Installation Protocol. Air Force Officials tell us these furloughs could start as early as April.  The base is still waiting to hear from the Department of Defense on the specifics.  In the meantime, the base is planning for a 10-15% reduction in budget. And this means military members may have to carry the extra workload. "Military members are going to have to step up to work a little bit extra long hours more days.  So, I feel that they might feel a little bit of rash of that but we are military, that's what we are trained to do," explains Tech Sgt. Holly Vaught. The National Museum of the United States Air Force is also anticipating furloughs.  The museum is run completely by civilian workers.  That means 95 employees could be impacted and some events would have to canceled due to lack of staff.

Sequestration impacts SSU programs
Portsmouth Daily Times// Staff
As President Barack Obama works with Capitol Hill leadership on a deal to lessen the impact of the federal sequestration that began Friday, some federally funded Shawnee State University (SSU) programs will receive a reduction in funding. According to released information from SSU, funding has been reduced for the following programs, Upward Bound, Student Support Services, EOC (Educational Opportunity Center), and Federal Work Study programs. “In the absence of guidelines or time lines from the government, we have attempted to minimize the impact of these cuts by reducing programming and staff hours and reallocating a small amount of university funds to see us through the remainder of our fiscal year,” said Dr. Rita Rice Morris, President of SSU in a released statement.

Oklahoma

Sequestration and Texoma senior meal programs
News 12 // Nicolette Schleisman
To see one way these national cuts could affect our area, Nicolette Schleisman spoke with two organizations that serve Texoma seniors. The latest estimates show nutrition programs for seniors could be cut by over $40 million dollars nationwide. I spoke with both Meals on Wheels of Texoma and the Southern Oklahoma Nutrition Program on what that lost funding could mean for the people they serve. With no deal reached in Washington on the sequester, people at home are starting to wonder how it will affect them. Especially seniors, who rely on a hot meal provided to them by organizations like the Southern Oklahoma Nutrition Program. "It's hard to do without them. We need em! We don't need the cuts. We need these hot meals every week," said Vowell Possey, who uses Southern Oklahoma Nutrition Program. Both the Southern Oklahoma Nutrition Program and Meals on Wheels say they don't know exactly how much these cuts could affect the seniors who rely on them, but they are able to make an estimate.

Fallin says state agencies prepared for sequester
Tulsa World // Wayne Greene
Fallin said the federal budget mess is an unneeded, self-inflicted wound for the nation.  "It is clear the sequester is creating a chaotic and uncertain environment for businesses looking to invest, state governments tasked with crafting budgets, and those who receive federal benefits or who work for or contract with the government," she said.  "That uncertainty is bad for the economy and is destroying jobs. Furthermore, the large and seemingly haphazard cuts to military spending reduce the effectiveness of our armed services and hurt the economies of states with large military presences, such as Oklahoma."


Oregon

How the $85 bil. in federal spending cuts will hit Lane Co.
KVAL // Tom Adams
As of now, officials said that health services will see Federal grant cuts to community health centers and co-pay coverage for children’s immunizations. The women, infant and children nutrition program (called "WIC") may take a 12 percent cut which Lane County Health Department official Jason Davis sees as detrimental to the program. “That results in over 900 individuals not being able to receive the services they're currently receiving each month,” Davis said. Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken said the government is holding back nearly $500,000 on the final timber payments check to Lane County. “This is public safety money … it’s how we really view this. Because - as you know - 70 percent of our general fund has to do with public safety,” said Leiken. School districts will see less money from title-1 grants from the federal government. This would cut grantmoney to primary and secondary schools as well as schools that serve special needs and low-income children.

The unkindest cuts
Mail Tribune // Damian Mann
In Oregon, $74.7 million in federal dollars would be carved out of food programs for seniors, public health for the poor and job search assistance for the unemployed. The Medford School District, bracing for another round of cutbacks because of spiraling costs for the Public Employee Retirement System, could see a 10 percent drop in federal dollars next year. About 3,000 civilian U.S. Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, a $16.5 million loss to the state economy. The U