White House outlines sequester effects on Delaware

As Congress debates action on the sequester, a package consisting of billions of dollars in spending cuts that is set to kick in March 1, President Barack Obama hosted a meeting with the nation’s governors at the White House, urging state leaders to promote compromise.

“While you are in town, I hope that you speak with your congressional delegation and remind them in no uncertain terms exactly what is at stake, exactly who is at risk, because here’s the thing, these cuts do not have to happen,” said Obama. “Congress can turn them off anytime, with just a little bit of compromise.”

The White House has released examples of how the federal cuts could affect each state.

According to the release, Delaware’s budget could lose millions in funding for education, early childhood development, public safety, public health and environmental protection.

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“This morning you received a report outlining exactly how these cuts will harm middle class families in your states,” said Obama during the governor’s meeting. “Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off; tens of thousands of parents will have to deal with finding childcare for their children. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventative care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.”

In January, Governor Jack Markell proposed a $3.7 billion FY 2014 budget including several million dollars for new teachers, step increases and salary increases for paraprofessionals.

However, according to the White House report, the state would lose more than $3 million in funding for primary and secondary education and education for students with disabilities. The cuts would put teacher and aid jobs at risk and cut funding for thousands of students and a handful of schools.

The cuts could also put a dent in the Governor’s state safety plans. In the FY 14 budget, Markell introduced $530,000 in new spending to hire six state police officers, but the cuts would eliminate about $83,000 in Justice Assistance Grants that support law enforcement.

In the long term, approximately 2,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $7.6 million in total.

The sequester would also mean $1 million in funding cuts for clean water and air quality measures as well as pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste.

With the growing number of health care costs, the state has already increased the budget by $154 million from FY2013 to compensate, including Medicaid payments of $35 million and personnel costs of $40 million.  The cuts would add hundreds of thousands of dollars to it.

For starters the state would lose more than $300,000 in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse. Additionally, $86,000 in funds to help upgrade responses to public health threats such as infectious diseases, natural disasters and hazardous material events would also be cut.

The states most vulnerable residents would also be affected. Nutrition assistance for seniors would lose approximately $200,000 for funds that provide meals for seniors while Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 100 children in the state.

Congress has until Friday to decide what programs will face cuts.

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