With time rapidly running out until sequestration goes into effect this Friday, many local officials still aren't sure exactly how the automatic federal spending cuts would play out in Washington state.
According to the White House, Washington's biggest losses would be in education and military spending. In 2013, officials have said our state would lose $11.6 million in funding for primary and secondary education, along with $11.3 million for education for children with disabilities—which would together put about 300 education jobs at risk.
Bellevue School District spokeswoman Sara Schwartz said the impact of sequestration at the district level probably would not be known for several months. Other local districts that have measured the impact say the effects of sequestration would be minimal this year, but would have more of an effect in the 2013-14 budget.
According to the Issaquah School District, which has Cougar Ridge and Sunset elementary schools in Bellevue, would lose $350,000 in federal funding, according to its website. The impact would be in the areas of Title I funding for low-income schools, special-education services, and school lunch services, and that the district would lose an additional $100,000 per school year in revenue because caps to levy dollars depend on how much the district gets in state and federal funding.
The impact to jobs would be more significant with military employees, according to the White House's projections. Across the state, about 29,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, resulting in a loss of $173.4 million in gross pay.
Some social services would also be hard hit. Washington stands to lose more than $1 million in nutritional assistance for senior residents and $143,000 in funds for victims of domestic violence—requiring the STOP Violence Against Women Program to serve approximately 500 fewer victims.
Unemployment insurance another area that could see some impacts from sequestration. The Seattle Times reports that up to 141,000 Washington residents who are accepting unemployment checks could be impacted, but state officials aren't sure exactly how severe the cuts would be.
The Federal Aviation Administration has said it might shut down eight airports in our state—including Renton Municipal Airport and Paine Field in Everett—but it's still not clear whether or not that would actually happen, according to The Times.
A state-by-state comparison compiled by Wells Fargo shows Washington would be one of the states hardest-hit by sequestration because 5.9 percent of our state's GDP comes from federal spending—much of it in the form of military spending.
President Obama will meet with top Congressional leaders on Friday, the day sequestration is scheduled to begin taking effect.
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