Squeezed by Sequester

How Federal Spending Cuts Would Affect S.B.

Thursday, February 28, 2013
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At this point, either Congress has reached an agreement to avoid the across-the-board spending cuts called “sequestration” or the pain is just starting to settle in. While it would be impossible to list all of the impacted services were the feds unable to cut a deal ​— ​the White House released a six-page bulleted list for the State of California alone ​— ​area officials have noted some of their most pressing concerns.

• The Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors addressed a letter to Congressmember Lois Capps explaining, “The cuts will impact services that include: public safety; public health; disaster preparedness and response; job training; community and economic development, social services and homeless assistance; and services to protect the elderly.”

• The county Department of Public Health would lose money for its Women, Infant, Children program, Nutrition Network, HIV/AIDS treatment, cancer detection, and mental health services for seriously mentally ill adults and emotionally disturbed children. Spokesperson Susan Klein-Rothschild pointed out that without many of these services, citizens will end up paying even more in the long run for jails or hospitalizations of uninsured patients. Medicare payments for subsidized health care would be delayed.

• Speaking of prison, employees at the federal facility in Lompoc could see furlough days, and reduced staffing would lead to more lockdowns, according to the Department of Justice. Drug treatment and vocational programs would go on the chopping block.

• Schools statewide look to lose $87.6 million for teachers and aides, as well as $62.9 million for children with disabilities. Santa Barbara district business honcho Meg Jetté estimated a loss of $400,000, mostly for personnel.

•Mayor Helene Schneider said that community aid block grants are in danger, as well as Section 8 housing vouchers.

• Research funding at UCSB is already down 20 percent as compared to last year with federal agencies only able to fund at a decreased rate while operating on a continuing resolution, said Michael Witherell, vice chancellor for research. The sequester calls for cuts to about 8 percent of nondefense research and development, a slightly more manageable hit that Witherell hopes agencies will settle at, once their budgets are known. Students on campus will also feel the sequester with the loss of federal aid such as work-study jobs.

• Vandenberg Air Force Base is looking at the possibility of a 20 percent reduction in the workweek for a civilian workforce of nearly 2,000. Brent McArthur, vice commander, said via email that “many of our launches occur after a typical duty day and many occur in the middle of the night. We will have many challenges that we will just have to work through.”

Executive Director of the UCSB Economic Forecast Project Peter Rupert pointed out that, for the sake of self-preservation, federally-funded entities are trying to scare the public with worst-case scenarios. Still, he said, 23 percent of Santa Barbara County’s workforce is employed in the public sector, about six points higher than the national average. So, he figured in a hypothetical thought experiment, if those workers averaged a furlough day a month, the county’s Gross Domestic Product would drop a percentage point. While hordes of children will likely not be running around half-naked hunting wild boar after March 1, the effects of that hit would ripple through the economy. As Rupert put it, “That’s not small potatoes.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

There are a number of federal DoD employees who work in Goleta with the various engineering companies. While the federal and defense budget needs to be reduced, a 20% reduction in salary is just not right. There are better approaches to address the personnel part of the budget.

- Federal employees with over 15 years get 8 hours annual and 4 hours sick leave per two week pay period. Reducing the annual leave to 6 hours is a 25% savings. Or, following many industries, combining the annual and sick times into personal time and reducing the 12 hours is another smart tactic.

- Many federal supervisors supervise 2-3 people. Set higher minimums.

- Federal employees with 30 years can retire at age 56 and draw their basic pension, tap their 401k AND draw a pension called "Social Security Offset" which is equal to their future SS paycheck.

I did like the Republicians suggestion that Congress not get paid until this is solved is a good idea. I would suggest not to pay the entire legislative and White House staff until the budget is balanced is a better idea.

passagerider (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2013 at 2:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Obama and the left have created such scare tactics over what they call cuts. But they aren't really cuts. They are just small decreases in the rate of growth of our massive federal spending.


The stock market sure isn't anticipating any dire consequences from these decreases in the rate of growth of federal spending. If the country can't handle these microscopic "cuts", we will never be able to cut anything, ever. Sequestration "cuts" for this year are $85B out of a budget of $3.6T. This is hardly the end of the world, despite Obama's attempts to portray it as such.

Botany (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2013 at 4 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Does anyone know about air traffic control at the SB airport?
I've got a flight scheduled for Tuesday.

taz (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2013 at 9:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

You know, we send all of this money OUT to the Federal Govt. first.. then when they squander it on their human death machine overseas we complain when we don't get enough back for services that WE should be providing for OUR OWN COMMUNITY.

Doesn't it feel great being dependent on the federal government?

loonpt (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2013 at 8:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Close 90 US Military Bases on foreign soil. Stop funding aid to foreign countries, it goes only to the ruling class and never trickles down. Egypt did not need F-16's.

Now you have billions to spend on the "American People".

howgreenwasmyvalley (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2013 at 8:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Sorry, the billions (er, trillions) have already been spent.

Botany (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2013 at 9:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you, o' thou selfish Republicans, for hastening your imminent demise.

Draxor (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Can we get the $1.3 billion back we gave Mubarak in his last year in power--for starters?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2013 at 3:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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