How the Sequester Will Affect Massachusetts

The White House hopes you don't want to see cuts to education or feeding the elderly.


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Most Americans like the idea of cutting government spending, but don’t rarely agree on any of the specific areas they’d like to cut, according to a Pew Research Survey, which explains why the White House is releasing data on the exact budget changes each state will see if the automatic spending cuts go into effect. The sequester is an automatic across the board $1.2 trillion budget cut that is set to go into effect March 2 thanks to a convoluted agreement in 2011’s debt ceiling standoff. In Massachusetts, according to White House data, this will mean the loss of:

  • “$13.9 million in funding for primary and secondary education”
  • funding for 1,100 children’s Head Start and Early Head Start services
  • “$4 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality”
  • “approximately 7,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $43.4 million in total”
  • “$300,000 in Justice Assistance Grants that support law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.”
  • “approximately $625,000 in funds to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats”
  • “$140,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 500 fewer victims being served.”
  • “$535,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors”

The White House lists a few other cuts we can expect, too, because as Obama tries to cut a deal with Republicans, or at least look like he tried harder than the other side, he’s banking on the idea that while most people think the federal government spends too much, no one thinks it spends too much on food for the elderly, assistance to victims of domestic abuse, or children’s education.

The question of how hard the sequester will hurt us is one that’s difficult to answer before it hits because it’s wrapped up in political posturing. As The Washington Post reports today:

Over the past week, President Obama has painted a picture of impending disaster, warning of travel delays, laid-off firefighters and pre-schoolers tossed out of Head Start. Conservatives accuse Obama of exaggerating the impact, and some White House allies worry the slow-moving sequester may fail to live up to the hype.

The way things are going, it seems like we’ll find out the hard way who’s right.