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Utah could lose $100M due to sequestration, White House says

By David Self Newlin | Posted - Feb 24th, 2013 @ 6:08pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — 15,000 civilian defense jobs furloughed. 9,000 fewer students served in Utah schools. Dirtier air and dirtier water. Almost $100 million less in federal dollars.

These are all things that the White House has said will happen to Utah if the impending sequester takes place on March 1. Sunday, they released a state-by-state report detailing the impact it says the cuts will have on the nation.

"Utah will lose approximately $6,260,000 in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 90 teacher and aide jobs at risk," the report states. "In addition about 9,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 20 fewer schools would receive funding."

The sequester — budget cuts that will automatically come into effect at the beginning of next month — is the result of the 2011 Budget Control Act, Which President Obama signed in order to end the August 2011 budget crisis. It is now playing a serious role in current budget negotiations.

The White House made some ugly predictions for Utah's future in 2013 if no action is taken before Friday: Some 15,000 civilian defense jobs will be furloughed; nearly $12 million would be lost for Utah's schools, and 160 teaching jobs would be put at risk; a half million in job training funds would be cut; and 1,230 fewer vaccines would be given to children; over $1 million in public health funds would be gone as well.

Utah's Governor Gary Herbert made much more dire predictions Friday, saying that over $500 million in federal money to Utah could be affected.

"We've asked our departments to prepare for the worst," he said. "Lets hope for the best, but lets anticipate the worst so we're prepared for what happens," Herbert said.

Republicans and Democrats in Washington have so far failed to come together on the current budget crisis. The cuts carry the brunt of the force that the "fiscal cliff" was said to have in Dec. 2012. Some $85 billion in government money is at stake.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee said he doesn't support the cuts.

"This is a big problem especially when the president hasn't brought forward any budget that has secured anywhere near enough votes to pass," Lee said. "And these are the sort of things that have become far too common because we've been operating without a budget."

All sides are so far blaming each other in the battle to contain and control the government's budget.

"Well, if it was a bad idea, it was the president's idea," former RNC chair Haley Barbour told the Associated Press.

The president also commented on the squabble in his weekly radio address, talking about the debate in terms of the rich paying their fair share.

"Unfortunately, it appears that Republicans in Congress have decided that instead of compromising - instead of asking anything of the wealthiest Americans - they would rather let these cuts fall squarely on the middle class," Obama said.

Many more effects are expected as well, including longer airport lines, fewer dollars for Head Start programs, and less food inspection.

Contributing: Devon Dolan

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