Sequester Takes Effect

March has come in like a lion as the sequester starts to take effect. 85.4 billion dollars in across the board spending cuts started on March 1st, after Congress failed to agree on a budget deal. Education, unemployment benefits, and the FAA are all taking a hit.

“We were notified last week that we were a part of the 100 airports around the country whose air traffic control towers would be shut down,” says Executive Director of DuPage Airport Authority, David Bird.

“We expect at least a 5.1 percent budget cut, which would mean probably $450,000 dollars that we would have less money to serve our families,” says Rebecca Spiridis, Associate Director of Two Rivers Head Start Agency in Aurora. “That impact may also mean then we would have to cut some services to children. We anticipate at least 50 children in our community would not be able to be served.”

Our school districts would also feel the effects. District 203 anticipates losing about $470,000 dollars. District 204’s cuts could be anywhere from $566,000 to $786,000 dollars. Both districts say these cuts are relatively small compared to their overall budgets, which are in the hundreds of millions.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security will also be impacted. Federal emergency unemployment benefits will be slashed by roughly 10 percent, and people who have been receiving benefits for more than 25 weeks will feel those cuts.

Local agencies want Congress to work together past the deadline before the sequester is fully implemented.

“It filters down to the grassroots level and affects operations like us that provide a tremendous amount of economic development to the area,” says Bird.

“How do you decide which child doesn’t receive services? But we’d have to look at the neediest of the needy,” says Spiridis.

The cuts will be gradual over the next several months. Federal employees cannot be laid off or furloughed until April 1st because employers are required to give them a one month notice. Some are still holding out hope that Congress will come up with a plan.

Both the Democrat led Senate and Republican led House would have to pass a budget deal to avoid the sequester’s continued effects.

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