Massachusetts would see more than $91 million in federal funds cut from a myriad of programs if Congress fails to act this week to avoid the sequester, the Obama Administration said Sunday.
In a move designed to pressure Republicans into accepting new taxes on the wealthy as part of a deal to prevent the sequester from taking effect on Friday, the White House released reports that outlined how those cuts would impact individual states, The Huffington Post reported.
Here are some examples of what's on the chopping block for us here in Massachusetts, according to the report:
- Military: Some 7,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing pay by around $43.4 million. Army base operation funding in the state would be cut by about $8 million, Air Force operations by about $5 million.
- Teachers and Schools: Some $13.9 million in primary and secondary education funding would be cut, putting around 190 teacher and aide jobs at risk; about 20,000 fewer students would be served and some 60 fewer schools would get funding, according to the administration. Also, Massachusetts would lose some $13.4 million to pay for about 160 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.
- Protections for Clean Air and Clean Water: About $4 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, and to prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. The Bay State could also lose another $472,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.
- Public Health: About $625,000 in funds to respond to infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological event threats. Also, $1.7 million for preventing and treating substance abuse, resulting in around 5,200 fewer admissions to programs. And about $367,000 in cuts would mean 9,200 fewer HIV tests.
- Job Search Help: About $787,000 in funding, meaning 27,000 fewer people would get help finding work, according to the administration.
- Nutrition Assistance for Seniors: About $535,000 for senior meal programs would be cut.
- Vaccines for Children: Almost 3,000 fewer children would get measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza and Hepatitis B vaccinations to save about $201,000.
- STOP Violence Against Women Program: Up to $140,000 would be cut in services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 500 fewer victims being served.
- Child Care: Up to 500 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care, which is also essential for working parents to hold down a job. There was no estimate of funding cut size.
- Head Start: Services would be eliminated for about 1,100 Massachusetts children. There was no estimate of funding cut size.
After the reports were released, Congressional Republicans criticized the Obama administration for the PR move, The Huffington Post reported.
“Rather than issuing last-minute press releases on cuts to first responders or troop training or airport security, he should propose smarter ways to cut Washington spending. After all, Washington spending, even with the sequester, is bigger than it was when he got here,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday morning disagreed with Republicans who blame the president for failing to lead.
Patrick said on the show: "This notion about not having leadership, this is about leadership. And, the President has shown that a balanced approach, which is about cuts and closing loopholes that enables us to invest in things and grow jobs, is more important and appropriate for us at this time."
Unless Congress intervenes, the law requires the Obama Administration to impose $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts to military and domestic programs on Friday, according to The New York Times. Those cuts would be the start of $1 trillion in cuts over the coming decade.
Fox News quotes reports that Republicans are working on a bill this week that would grant the White House more leeway to target the cuts in a more responsible, less meat-cleaver-type way.