Effects of automatic spending cuts surface
by Christina A. Cassidy
The Associated Press
April 22, 2013 12:00 AM | 1167 views | 3 3 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gov. Nathan Deal
Gov. Nathan Deal
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ATLANTA — A few weeks after automatic spending cuts took effect within the federal government, the trickle-down effect is beginning to surface in Georgia.

There are anticipated cuts to educational programs, as well as a likely freeze in rental assistance for the poor and reductions in community development grants.

Gov. Nathan Deal said this week he had warned those who oversee state agencies receiving federal funds to prepare.

“We have made our state agencies aware of the fact that if they do lose federal dollars, their first priority should be to try to make sure that they economize and that they make the adjustments,” Deal said in an interview. “And that they should not expect the state, through its revenue, to backfill those revenue losses from the federal government.”

Deal noted that some state agencies may feel the effects more than others. “Even though sequestration is an across-the-board type cut, with some exceptions, it does not play out that way on the state level,” Deal said, noting some state agencies are more dependent on federal grant money than others.

The Department of Community Affairs has been bracing for the across-the-board federal cuts for about two years as well as dealing with state budget cuts, according to spokeswoman Saralyn Stafford. In preparation of the federal cuts for the Housing Choice Voucher program, which provides rental assistance to the poor, the department closed program offices in Albany and Carrollton, resulting in about 19 people losing their jobs.

Although a recent budget presented by President Barack Obama did not include major cuts to community development and housing programs for the next fiscal year, the department is still bracing for a possible 5 to 8 percent reduction in federal funding for the rental assistance program and a 5 percent reduction in funding for Community Development Block Grants.

“We haven’t had our head in the sand on this,” Stafford said. “We’ve been taking a lot of steps to consolidate offices where possible. And, like a lot of other government employees, no raises.”

The state has about 15,700 participants in the rental assistance program benefiting an estimated 50,000 people, Stafford said.

There’s a long waiting list of people who want assistance, but with the possible funding cuts the program would likely be frozen at its current level, she said.

“We probably won’t be able to serve new people, but we don’t anticipate having to remove anyone,” Stafford said.

The Community Development Block Grants, which help provide infrastructure needs, is a competitive program.

The department expects it will not be able to award as many grants as previous years, Stafford said.

The department anticipates funding could drop from $34.5 million to $32.7 million, following a $2 million cut the year before.

“We’ll have to see which (projects) rise to the top and how much that will cover,” Strafford said.

Another program that provides funding for low-income housing and down payment assistance for homebuyers may also see a reduction of a possible $700,000 to just over $14 million available.

All the possible cuts do not include federal funding for community development and housing programs that is sent directly to some of the state’s largest cities, which will likely face similar challenges.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education has released some preliminary estimates of cuts for fiscal year 2013. The biggest reduction would be an estimated $25.7 million in Title 1 grant money. The Title 1 program supports schools with high concentrations of low-income students.

Georgia also could see a $17.4 million reduction in IDEA Part B funds, which provide assistance for children with disabilities.

Estimates are not yet available for individual school districts in the state. A handful of other educational programs also are projected to have cuts.

The Head Start program, which provides various services to low-income children and their families, is subject to a projected 5 percent reduction, although Obama’s current budget proposal calls for an increase in funding that would mitigate the cuts.

Most of the funds are administered on the federal level to providers in the state.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning is projecting the automatic spending cuts could affect a portion of funds it receives under the federal Child Care Development Fund. Estimates would see a reduction of approximately $7 million in fiscal year 2013 in the portion used to help fund the child care subsidy program and other related child care programs.

“However, due to the timing, nature of the funding streams, and current service levels, we currently expect to manage through this with minimal disruption to operations and no impact on service,” agency spokesman Reg Griffin said in an email.
Comments
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anonymous
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April 22, 2013
The author, Christina, is disingenuous with this article, neglecting to mention that the cuts are the direct result of President Obama trying to play politics and once again failing to make something positive happen. The sequester cuts are Obama's. He owns them. He did this and the media cannot figure out how to NOT explain it.
anonymous
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April 23, 2013
Actually, President Obama shows his true genius with the sequesters, and let me state that I am not a Democrat or a Republican either way anymore. First, President Obama is not trying to play politics-President Obama already won at playing politics. Now that we have that out of the way, he is by far not failing to make something positive happen. Yes, the sequester cuts are Obama's and if the media needs an explanation, I can give it to them right here. You know how (or maybe I was the only one) that when your children were driving you crazy, you said, "I sure do wish you could go play outside, but it is too hot, too cold, too cloudy, too anything to go out there." What was the reaction? "Mama, I want to go outsideeeeee." I (relunctantly, tee, hee) agreed, "Wellll, okkkkay." State, local, and federal government will live on in spite of the sequesters. The sky will not fall. The United States of America will not fail. I see the brain behind the idea. I did not vote for him, but on this one, he made a genius move. "Don't blame me-blame the Republicans for the sequester." All the while lower income cuts are being made and still hailing Obama and blaming Republicans. The man is a political artist. He is what he needs to be. The private sector has cut to the bone. It is not popular or electable to ask anyone that gets money from the government to give up some of it. The man is a mastermind, and I have to give him applause. Check back in a year. Nobody died because of the sequester, the nation did not fall, poor people are not begging on the streets starving before our very eyes. Cuts in government spending need to be made. President Obama recognizes this and has make it palatable to his supports by blaming Republicans. Nice move.
Huh? What?
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April 23, 2013
How did Obama try to play politics and once again failed? I thunk he played politics and won twice.
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