Federal budget cuts may not hit area hard
Another fiscal deadline looms Friday
Calls of immediate financial disaster and massive layoffs may not be the case if the President and Congress cannot agree on a budget and automatic cuts go into effect Friday, local officials said.
President Barack Obama on Monday said looming automatic spending cuts are already affecting the economy, while a top administration official warned that the nation’s borders would be less secure if billions of dollars are yanked from the budget Friday.
However, the president admitted that most will not see the impact of the cuts for days, maybe even months.
The federal government has until Friday to come up with a budget before automatic cuts go into effect. According to Wikipedia, “budget sequestration is a procedure in United States law that limits the size of the federal budget. Sequestration involves setting a hard cap on the amount of government spending within broadly-defined categories.
“If Congress enacts annual appropriations legislation that exceeds these caps, an across-the-board spending cut is automatically imposed on these categories, affecting all departments and programs by an equal percentage. The amount exceeding the budget limit is held back by the Treasury and not transferred to the agencies specified in the appropriation bills.”
Porterville Unified School District Superintendent John Snavely said they do not expect to see any cuts.
“I really haven’t received any direct information. I have heard if it does affect us, it would not be until August.”
Snavely said less than 10 percent of the district’s funding comes from Washington.
Sequoia National Forest Supervisor Kevin Elliott said he has not been given any direction.
“We’ve been told not a lot yet,” he said Monday afternoon. “We have not been given an amount of what we need to cut.”
Elliott said he is hopeful there will be flexibility so they don’t have to furlough employees. He did speculate one impact could be hiring fewer seasonal workers.
No Settlement In Sight
Despite the urgent rhetoric, there was no indication the White House and congressional Republicans were actively negotiating a deal to avoid the so-called sequester ahead of the end of the week deadline. The last known conversation between Obama and GOP leaders was last week and there have been no in-person meetings between the parties this year.
With Congress back from a weeklong recess, House Speaker John Boehner showed little willingness to move off his long-held position that the sequester be offset through targeted spending cuts, not the package of cuts and tax increases Obama supports.
The sequester was designed as an unpalatable fallback, meant to take effect only if a congressional super-committee failed to come up with at least $1 trillion in savings from benefit programs. The law was passed in 2011 and signed by President Obama.
Many of the nation’s governors, who are gathered in Washington for their annual meeting, voiced frustration over the impending cuts, saying Washington’s inability to strike a deal had created widespread uncertainty in the economy and hampered economic recovery in their states.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) said Republicans are not about to budge.
“What we’re talking about is an $85 billion cut out of the $3.6 trillion budget – two cents out of every dollar. American households have been able to do this,” he said.
“Now, the President is back on the campaign trail offering only the same old tactics of fear instead of solving the Washington’s spending problem. Instead of cutting wasteful spending such as the $4 million annual budget of the IRS to operate a TV production studio, the President is demanding another tax increase. The American people need more than just a road show presidency, we need someone who is willing tackle the $16.4 trillion national debt.”