Sequestration: Bad for Students, Old People, Law Enforcement, Environment, Probably You

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With Congress and the White House unlikely to strike a deal by Friday to cut the federal budget deficit, a series of automatic cuts known as sequestration are set to go into effect. In total, various federal agencies will be forced to cut $85 billion from their collective operating budgets, resulting in a very tangible reduction in government services.

D.C. would feel the burden very directly, and not just in the number of federal workers who might be forced to take furlough days. The White House last night released state-by-state impact reports on the potential effects of sequestration, with education, workforce development, and public health all taking hits.

The District would lose about $533,000 in funding for primary and secondary education, equivalent to cutting off 1,000 students and ending support to two public schools. D.C. Public Schools’ programs for students with learning disabilities would face even tougher cuts, with $925,000 in funding for teacher and staff salaries set to disappear.

Meanwhile, the White House says that Head Start services will be eliminated for 200 children if the sequestration goes into effect.

The city’s workforce development programs also stand to lose a significant portion of the federal aid they depend upon. Sequestration would cut $174,000 from job search assistance efforts. The White House projects that under that scenario, 5,460 fewer people would be able to participate in the District’s job search programs.

Sequestration would also bring major cuts to several public health programs. D.C. stands to lose $57,000 for efforts to upgrade its ability to respond to disease outbreaks, natural disasters, or biochemical attacks.

The expected impacts on substance abuse and disease prevention are far more severe. If sequestration goes into effect, D.C. can expect to lose $330,000 in grants for drug treatment programs, resulting in 500 fewer admissions. Meanwhile, the Department of Health would lose $324,000, forcing it to conduct about 8,100 fewer tests for HIV and AIDS.

Among the other projected cuts, D.C. would also lose $191,000 in funding to provide meals to senior citizens, $25,000 for childhood vaccination services, $13,000 to help victims of domestic violence, $80,000 in law enforcement grants, and $1 million for environmental protection.

Meanwhile, with the Defense Department slated to see some of the biggest sequestration cuts, much of that burden will fall on the Pentagon’s civilian workforce. About 13,000 Defense Department employees would be furloughed, amounting to a $111.3 million reduction in gross pay, which would in turn impact the District’s income tax collections.

The situation is even bleaker in Virginia, where in addition to similar planned cuts to social programs, the impact on the civilian Pentagon workforce is far bigger. The White House estimates that 90,000 Defense Department employees who live in Virginia would be furloughed, with a loss of $648.4 million in gross pay. Sequestration would also bring cuts to Army and Air Force base operations, and force the cancellation of maintenance on 11 ships in Norfolk.

Maryland would lose more than $30 million in funding for education, public health, law enforcement, and environmental protection.

 

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