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Sequester could slice billions in Ohio

A series of automatic cuts called the sequester could cost Ohio about $2 billion in 2013 if Congress does not come to a compromise on the nation’s spending plans by March 1.

A report released Monday by the White House detailed cuts that could result from the sequester. Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council Jason Furman said the sequester is designed to cut $85 billion in spending in the next seven months, adding that 13 percent of the defense budget will be cut as well as 9 percent of the non-defense budget.

Deputy Press Secretary for the Economy Amy Brundage said the sequester was supposed to be “bad policy” that was intended only to prompt a better policy.

“These are harmful cuts that were never supposed to go into effect,” Brundage said. “They are supposed to force a decision between Democrats and Republicans in Congress.”

Tim Keen, director of the Ohio Office of Budget and Management, said in a news release the federal debt must be stabilized.

“Sequestration may not be the most desirable means of addressing this issue, but clearly the federal government must follow Ohio’s example and put its fiscal house in order,” Keen said.

The series of sequester cuts would be harmful to public services, especially those provided by the State of Ohio, said Debbie Phillips, D-Albany.

“Budgeting with a meat cleaver is not the best approach,” Phillips said. “It would be far better if Congress were willing to sit down and actually come up with some agreements about how we’ll address these problems in a more thoughtful way.”


If the sequester goes into effect, Ohio could lose $25.1 million in primary and secondary school funding and $22 million in education funding for children with disabilities.

Furman said Head Start and Early Head Start programs would be eliminated for about 2,500 children throughout the state if the sequester took place.

Athens City Schools Superintendent Carl Martin could not be reached for comment.


Ohio would lose about $4.7 million in public health funding, $3.3 million in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, according to a release from The White House.

The state would also lose more than $1 million in funding to help respond to public health threats, such as infectious diseases or natural disasters.

Charles Hammer, administrator for the Athens City-County Health Department, said he believes his department would be able to handle the cuts.

“The Athens health department may have some grant shortfalls if the automatic cuts take place,” Hammer said in an email. “But we will deal effectively with any cuts and continue to provide appropriate public health services for Athens County.”

Law Enforcement

Ohio law enforcement would lose $455,000 in Justice Assistance Grants with the sequester.

Ohio University Police Department Chief Andrew Powers said OUPD might be affected because it receives federal grant money to make purchases.


For Ohio, the sequester would cut $6.8 million from clean air and clean water protection programs in the state. Ohio would also lose $981,000 in fish and wildlife protection grants, according to the release.

Chris Abbruzzese, deputy director of communication for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said his office has not had time to evaluate the report.

“(The Ohio Office of Budget and Management) is prepared to work with all state agencies to manage any impacts the sequestration might create,” Keen said.

Stopping the Sequester

Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, said he hopes members of Congress will come to a quick resolution.

“I think people should come together, regardless of their feelings of the president, to make sure this country doesn’t end up in bad condition,” Gentile said.

Furman said if a decision is not reached, some effects, such as cuts to unemployment insurance checks, would start as soon as possible, and all effects would occur within seven months.

—Samuel Howard contributed to this article.

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