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Sequester slashing

Published March 02. 2013 09:02AM

The $85.4 billion in 2013 automatic federal spending cuts triggered by the budget sequester will hurt Pennsylvanians, especially children, the struggling, and the elderly. The sequester, created under the Budget Control Act of 2011, is a series of automatic cuts in "discretionary" spending over a 10-year period. It was activated on Friday after the 12 member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction failed to come up with a plan for reducing the deficit by $1.5 trillion by 2021.

On Friday, President Barack Obama planned to meet with congress to discuss how to handle the cuts, so the figures may change. But as of Feb. 24, a news release from the White House provided these numbers:

Education: $26.4 million in K-12 funding will vanish, as will $21.4 million for teachers, aides and staff who work with disabled children. Also, funding will be cut for 2,300 children who attend Head Start and early Head Start programs. Money that helps 3,160 low-income students pay for college will be lost, as would work-study funds for 2,290 college students.

Environment: Pennsylvania lost about $5,705,000 aimed at ensuring clean water and air quality, and preventing pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. The state lost $1,448,000 in fish and wildlife protection grants.

Military: Reductions in gross pay of about $150.1 million will lead to the furloughing of about 26,000 civilian Department of Defense employees, and Army base operation funding will be cut by about $7 million.

Law enforcement: The state lost about $509,000 in Justice Assistance Grants.

Domestic violence: Pennsylvania lost up to $271,000 for services to victims of domestic violence, cutting the lifeline to 1,000 victims.

Nutrition Assistance for Seniors: The sequester cut $849,000 for meals for seniors.

Job Search Assistance: The state will lose about $866,000 for job search assistance, referral, and placement, cutting off that help to about 36,860 unemployed workers. Compounding the pain, unemployment checks will be cut by 9.4 percent.

Vaccines for Children: About $361,000 in cuts means about 5,280 fewer children will be inoculated against measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B.

Public Health: Pennsylvania will lose about $1,213,000 to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. In The state will also lose about $2,930,000 in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, cutting about 3,500 people off from substance abuse programs.

Also, money for inspections of plants that process meat and poultry will be cut, possibly leading to shortages and higher prices for that main dish.

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