With time rapidly running out until sequestration goes into effect on Friday, many local officials still aren't sure exactly how the automatic federal spending cuts would play out in Washington state.
According to the White House, Washington's biggest losses would be in education and military spending. In 2013, officials have said our state would lose $11.6 million in funding for primary and secondary education, along with $11.3 million for education for children with disabilities—which would together put about 300 education jobs at risk.
In the Northshore School District, the loss of federal funding could amount to a 5.9 percent reduction, or about $500,000, district officials were advised by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
The biggest impact would be on Special Education, according to Northshore School District spokeswoman Leanna Albrecht:
5.9 percent of the current year’s (special education) grants is $275,000. Since services cannot simply be reduced, other program cuts may be needed to accommodate this reduction.
Other grants that would see cuts of about $100,000 include Title grants and Perkins grants, Albrecht said. Build America Bonds would also be affected:
The rebate is received in both the general fund and the debt service fund. The reduction in the general fund would likely result in other budget reductions. The district may need to request additional taxing authority to pay the principal and interest due on bonds in the debt service fund. The reduction in both funds could be over $125,000.
OSPI does not believe there will be a reduction in the federal reimbursement for meals or a reduction in commodities, Albrecht added.
The impact to jobs would be more significant with military employees, according to the White House's projections. Across the state, about 29,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, resulting in a loss of $173.4 million in gross pay.
Some social services would also be hard hit. Washington stands to lose more than $1 million in nutritional assistance for senior residents and $143,000 in funds for victims of domestic violence—requiring the STOP Violence Against Women Program to serve approximately 500 fewer victims.
Unemployment insurance another area that could see some impacts from sequestration. The Seattle Times reports that up to 141,000 Washington residents who are accepting unemployment checks could be impacted, but state officials aren't sure exactly how severe the cuts would be.
The Federal Aviation Administration has said it might shut down eight airports in our state—including Renton Municipal Airport and Paine Field in Everett—but it's still not clear whether or not that would actually happen, according to The Times.
A state-by-state comparison compiled by Wells Fargo shows Washington would be one of the states hardest-hit by sequestration because 5.9 percent of our state's GDP comes from federal spending—much of it in the form of military spending.
President Obama will meet with top Congressional leaders on Friday, the day sequestration is scheduled to begin taking effect.
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