Congress and the president had more than a year to head off sequestration, but on March 1, due to a lack of an agreement, it took effect. And those effects are beginning to be felt in Maine.
Sequestration is $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts going into effect over the next 10 years, with roughly $85 billion slated for this year. Agencies and departments don’t have any input on how it goes into effect — the spending cuts are implemented across the board.
It started with the 2011 standoff over the U.S. debt ceiling and ended with Congress and the administration agreeing to more than $2 trillion in cuts. About $1 trillion of that was laid out in the debt-ceiling bill and the rest imposed through sequestration — a device so unpalatable that Congress would have to disarm it by coming up with an equal amount of spending reductions elsewhere.
That plan failed in November of 2011 when the “supercommittee” failed to agree on a less painful way to cut spending.
Congress then put off the sequester until March 1 as part of the last-minute fiscal cliff deal on New Year’s Day. However, without any movement toward an agreement, sequestration is now in effect.
Half of the $1.2 trillion will be cut from the Defense Department and other national security agencies, with the rest of the cuts coming on the domestic side — education, nutrition programs, child care, housing aid, food inspections, national parks and more.
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April 5, 2013
The federal automatic budget cuts are expected to have a widespread impact on all sectors of society, including in New Hampshire.
The failure of Congress to reach agreement on the federal budget before the March 1 deadline meant millions of dollars in program cuts and job losses. Workers and public agency advocates have voiced their disapproval across the country.
But those who are too young to speak up are among those being affected the most — children, according to representatives for New Hampshire children’s organizations.
In the Granite State, thousands of children and their families will feel the impact of those cuts, the advocates said.
Representatives for the Children’s Alliance of New Hampshire, Every Child Matters in New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Head Start Association and Housing Action New Hampshire held a press conference yesterday to express their dissatisfaction with the cuts.
“These cuts will have very serious impacts on children and families in New Hampshire,” said Erika Argersinger, policy director for the Children’s Alliance of New Hampshire.
The child advocates asked the state’s congressional delegates to work with their colleagues to support an agreement for 2014 that reverses the budget cuts.
That would help protect valuable social service programs and prevent the federal government from shifting more budgetary responsibilities to states like New Hampshire, they said.
“All of these choices will cause a tremendous hardship for families,” said Jeanne Agri, president of the New Hampshire Head Start Association.
Head Start is a program that helps prepare young children for school. The cuts mean 100 fewer children will be able to enroll in Head Start and Early Head Start.
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Sequester cuts would hit local programs hard
Posted: Friday, April 5, 2013 12:00 pm
By Kyle Jarvis Sentinel Staff
Federal spending cuts resulting from Congress’ failure to adopt a budget will have devastating effects on local programs, including Head Start, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and homeless services, officials in those programs said Thursday.
As sequestration — or across-the-board spending cuts — looms just over the horizon, social services programs stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, likely resulting in decreased services provided by those agencies.
Officials from the New Hampshire Head Start Association, Housing Action New Hampshire, the Children’s Alliance of New Hampshire, and Every Child Matters New Hampshire weighed in on the potential impacts of those cuts during a conference call with reporters Thursday.
“What we do know is there’s clearly going to be a 5 percent across-the-board cut,” said Jeanne Agri, president of the New Hampshire Head Start Association. That means her program will lose $733,000 from its 4 million funding. Agri called that a “significant amount of money.”
Head Start offers educational programs for underprivileged children from low-income families. Agri said the funding cuts could close Head Start programs and lead to fewer hours and services. That could leave some families searching for options, she said.Read more »