How will we feel the federal budget sequester?

The federal budget sequestration will strain some visible federal programs — Head Start, air traffic control. It will hurt the poor. But what will the federal budget sequestration do to state and local government budgets?

There are enough moving parts that the answer is not clear, but it appears that, overall, most state and local governments will feel relatively limited budget effects in the present fiscal year and over the coming years.

For most of us, it may take some time to recognize the damage that the cuts will do, but in the long run, I fear that, through some unpleasant surprises, we are going to find out more about what the federal government actually has been doing for us.

Your perceptions of the sequester?

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

6 replies on “How will we feel the federal budget sequester?”

  1. The effects of the sequester will direct, but from indirect causes. In Massachusetts there are large numbers of people who work in Research, Defense and other industries which are federally dependent enterprises or for the work Federal government. These people will feel direct effects of the sequester and soon.

    I think that the lost spending, income or layoffs from these sources will hit the commonwealth in the tax base…and therefore force changes in spending levels. The issue is we do not know how bad it will be. But we will have significant cuts to the revenue side of the budget. Perhaps more than in states with smaller federal budget presence their economy.

    So do not fool yourself in thinking we will be able to skate through the sequester at the state level without any pain or cuts to government services.

    And the stupidity of the politics of the crisis.

  2. I am concerned about more pressure on school budgets– a 6% to 7% cut in federal grants would amount to something like $350k in lost revenue for Belmont schools:

    Belmont seems to be continually facing cuts to its schools; this would seem to make difficult choices even harder. I don’t know if this cut will actually happen, or if it does, how the schools will propose to deal with it. But I live in fear of the situation a couple of years ago where the schools were facing the possibility of cutting all elementary art and music, half of phys ed, and much more.

  3. Dear Mr. Brownsberger,

    I read your email about the minimal effects of the sequester below with my mouth hanging open. Surely you are not serious?

    About 2,000 pre-school kids not having access to preschool should be a problem (& the challenges their parents will now face in finding affordable care for them). Close to 30,000 unemployed will no longer get help in their job-search.
    I assume we should not be concerned by the more than a thousand military who will be furloughed and see their pay cut by a fifth?
    Should we not concern ourselves with the impact on food inspections, as well as the closure of small airports, and reduced air traffic control? And in this research intense state – the significant cuts to research budgets, just those from the CDC will have a major impact on biotech here.
    I could go on and on, I am fascinated that you could not see very worrying impacts. These are just some small articles that might help, otherwise the Washington Post has done a good job of analyzing the federal and state implications of this political disaster.

  4. Hi Charlene,

    I agree that there are real impacts on direct federal services, as you point out — 10% actual reduction is a very real cut.

    What my piece says is that the impact on state and local government budgets per se will be relatively modest — it will be under 1% and these governments will not be prohibited from making it up in other ways as the federal agencies will be.


  5. I agree the impact will be minor. People should note that this is not even a real cut, but merely a slowing of the growth of the Federal budget. Much of the scare tactics are very irresponsible and do not address the root problem which is out of control spending. For example, last week Homeland Security released 200 illegal aliens who were being detained using the excuse that they were reacting to the sequester. Lots of people desperately trying to scare people and protect their fiefdoms.

    Take Detroit as an example of what will be coming our way if we do not do something about our out of control spending and fast. We have do adapt to the new reality, which is we are a fading economic power. Jobs and whole industries have left the country and they are not coming back.

    We need to ratchet down the expectations of what we can get from the Government and re-learn how things were done not too long ago; family, community, charity.

  6. It’s so hard to understand the potential effects because most of what the press reports about the sequester is merely political jousting by partisans. As usual, the press is just recycling the equivalents of press releases under the guise of informing us.

    The response of federal agencies is uneven. We are told these are across-the-board cuts, but are not told how much latitude agencies have to decide what to trim. So to defend their turf, they create worst-case scenarios by furloughing air traffic controllers, food inspectors and the like, because they know the public will be sympathetic.

    It feels like turf games are being played all the way down from Obama to the line agencies. Why aren’t reporters telling us what choices they have been making, why, and what alternatives could be chosen?

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