Impact of potential federal budget cuts will impact state


PITTSFIELD -- Fewer teachers and instructional aides, fewer children receiving vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella, and more than 10,000 jobs in Massachusetts along with millions of federal dollars are at risk if Congress can't come to a compromise and prevent massive spending cuts that begin Friday, according to the White House.

"By not asking the wealthy to pay a little more, Republicans are forcing our children, seniors, troops, military families and the entire middle class to bear the burden of deficit reduction," the White House statement said. "The president is determined to cut spending and reduce the deficit in a balanced way, but he won't stick the middle-class with the bill."

With just three days before the $85 billion federal budget slash this fiscal year, President Barack Obama continued to put pressure on Republican legislators to prevent the across-the-board cuts, a process known as sequestration, by releasing a state-by-state breakdown on the impacts of the 10-year span of cuts worth $1.2 trillion. If Congress does not step in, a top-to-bottom series of cuts -- spawned by the dispute with Republicans over raising the debt limit in 2012 -- will be spread across domestic and defense agencies in a way that would fundamentally change how government serves its people.

According to the White House report, Massachusetts would lose approximately $13.9 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting nearly 190 teacher and aide jobs at risk.

The cuts would also put 7,000 civilian Department of Defense employees in Massachusetts on furlough, reduce funding for law enforcement by $300,000 and programs that provide services to victims of domestic violence, and meal assistance for seniors by a combined $675,000.

Rob Doolittle, a spokesman for General Dynamics, said it's unclear how, or if, the cuts will affect the company and its contracts with the Department of Defense.

"Until our customers tell us how, or if, to change those contracts and the work we're doing for them, we can't estimate the impact," he told The Eagle.

He said the Pittsfield location, which builds mission systems for the Littoral Combat Ship, hasn't seen any decline in production because of the longer process it takes to build such a component but other offices that build short-term projects, about 6 months or so, have seen production slow.

Throughout New England and nationally, the cuts could affect everything from commercial plane flights to food inspections.

James Brett, president of the New England Council, a nonpartisan business alliance group, said the six-state region could lose $300 million in medical research funding from the National Institutes of Health, 2,300 jobs and the prospect of losing talented scientists to other nations.

U.S. Rep Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, called the scheduled cuts "arbitrary" and said if they go through it would cause "significant damage" to Western Massachusetts.

"I hope a common sense, fair and balanced compromise can be reached that will prevent these devastating spending cuts from taking place," Neal told reporters. "The American people are interested in solutions, not gimmicks."

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, speaking at a meeting with business leaders on Monday in Boston, called the automatic spending cuts a "mindless across-the-board approach" the solving the country's budget woes.

"I cannot believe we have gotten to this point once again, that we seem to have a government ... that only waits until the 59th minute of the 11th hour to say, ‘OK, maybe we'll do something that isn't catastrophic,'" Warren said.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.

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If the $85 billion in federal spending cuts go through, the White House estimates the impacts on Massachusetts will be:

n Approximately $13.9 million in funding for primary and secondary education would be cut, putting 190 teacher and aide jobs at risk.

n $13.4 million in funds for 160 teachers, aides and staff who help children with disabilities, would be cut.

n 580 fewer low-income students won't be able to receive aid to attend college.

n Head State and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for 1,100 children in the state.

n $4 million in environmental funding to ensure clear water, air quality and pollution prevention would be cut.

n 7,000 civilians working for the Department of Defense would be put on furlough.

n Army base operations funding would lose $8 million.

n Air Force operations funding would lose $5 million.

n Nearly $300,000 in Justice Assistance Grants, to support law enforcement, prosecution, crime prevention and education would be lost.

n $787,000 in job search assistance funding would be cut, leaving 26,970 fewer people getting help and skills to find employment.

n 2,940 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza and Hepatitis B.

n $1.7 million in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse would be lost, resulting in 5,200 fewer admissions to programs.

n $140,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence and abuse, resulting in 500 fewer victims being served.

n $535,000 in funds to provide meals for seniors.


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