The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Deb Brumley
For the Sentinel 

Sequestration means uncertainties, cuts, slowdowns and closures


It seemed like a good idea last fall for federal lawmakers to agree that on March 1 this year automatic spending cuts would kick in, should they not be able to agree on specific budget cuts needed to balance the national budget in the early part of the new year. The new year is here, and the U.S. is but several days away from those automatic cuts, also known as Sequestration. That good fall idea now means budget officials at all levels are scrambling hard to figure out actual financial cuts and impacts and pass those numbers down through the federal financial offices to state and local offices for action. While it is still possible for Congress to come to a budget agreement in the next few days, the activities of Federal elected officials seems to signal that Sequestration, rather than budget agreement, is likely.

On Monday, Feb. 25, released state-by-state sequester financial cuts. Among the long list of Washington State financial hits are a $173.4 million reduction for military readiness; education is another big loser. “Cuts of $11 million are coming to Washington State for Title I education programs,” according to OSPI Communications Director Nathan Olson, “and another $11,000,000 will be cut in special education funding.” Goldendale School District Superintendent Mark Heid noted, “We will not be aware of how it impacts us until 2014.”

More than $660,000 will be reduced from the Employment and Training Budget—those funds are earmarked for job seekers and those drawing unemployment may see their weekly check amounts reduced by up to nine percent.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also released a state by state budget reduction list which included closure of air traffic control towers at airports in nearby Yakima, Walla Walla, and Moses Lake airports. Air traffic controllers working the night shift at the Seattle and Spokane control towers could face job losses over time, and airport facilities could begin to be closed, said the FAA, if budget disagreement continues on into April.

Nutrition Assistance for seniors in Washington State will see a cut in funding of over $1 million These funds are used to provide nutrition for local Meals on Wheels, which delivers meals to thousands of homebound seniors statewide, and includes congregate meals, which serves regular hot meal at specific sites, for seniors to enjoy in the company of others.

According to Sharon Carter, Executive Director of Klickitat County Senior Services, the state does have a small fallback of meals funding, and will use the reserve first, before making program cuts.

“Our local seniors won’t see an impact initially, until probably next year,” said Carter. “There are reserves that will be tapped into first.”

Because the area Senior Services program is heavily dependent on volunteerism and does everything it can to “spread out the money, its times like these that the call is for action. Volunteers are always needed, food donations are always appreciated,” says Carter.

Mid-Columbia Children’s Council, which operates Head Start, Early Head Start, Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program and Oregon Pre-K programs, oversees these early childhood education programs for 215 children in the Gorge counties of Oregon and Washington, which includes children in Klickitat and Skamania counties. According to Katy Warren, Deputy Director Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP/Washington State Training Consortium, 11 children will lose services under the proposed Sequestration and losses to this program equal $110,000 a year.


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