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Imminent sequester cuts could hit California hard

February 25, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
There are four days to go and there's no sign of negotiations to head off automatic federal spending cuts. If the federal cuts go through, sequestration will be felt the hardest in California's public schools.

The state Department of Education estimates that between grants for low-income kids and special education students, Head Start and other programs, classrooms will lose $260 million. That's roughly 2,000 teachers and aides getting pink slips.

Capitol Advisors President Kevin Gordon says that's bad news for urban areas.

"Federal assistance tends to be sent out to school districts based on the number of poor kids you have and kids that are at risk," Gordon said.

On top of that, $1 million in vaccine funding means nearly 16,000 children will not be getting their necessary shots.

Over at the unemployment office, there will be another hit for the long-term unemployed receiving benefit extensions. Their checks could be smaller.

"We've been informed by the U.S. Department of Labor that the employment benefit amounts for long-term unemployed individuals could be cut by as much as 10 percent," said Loree Levy of the state Employment Development Department.

Californians can also forget about services like job training and telephone assistance, because EDD's administrative budget is in line for severe cutbacks.

"That means the ability to answer the phone, process the workload timely and get people their benefits timely," Levy said.

The elderly will especially be vulnerable if sequestration took effect. Programs like Meals on Wheels will not be able to provide as much food if their budget it cut by 10 percent.

For a Sacramento-area senior center, that means serving roughly 50,000 fewer meals per year.

Public safety would also be on the chopping block, meaning fewer FBI and drug enforcement agents on California streets.


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