Sequester could impact local programs

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March is just eight days away, which means lawmakers have a little more than a week before the dreaded Sequester goes into effect.

Currently there are more than one trillion dollars worth of budget cuts on the line for this Sequester. Not only could the Sequester mean jobs lost, it could also mean significant cuts to programs which benefit many in the Valley.

Like any budget, cuts can pose many negative consequences for a business.

"They can be detrimental in a lot of ways," Head Start northern regional operations manager Mark Mayasich said of his program. "You know, we can lose slots, we can lose children."

In the coming week, local Head Start programs will be keeping a close eye on the Sequester situation.

"It’s something we're waiting to see, it's obviously something outside of our control," Mayasich said.

If congress doesn't come to an agreement by March 1st, the Sequester could take effect, cutting funds from various programs across the country including Head Start.

“These funds support our facilities, our children, our staff, all of the resources that we access are provided by these funds," Mayasich said.

Head start currently supports 493 children on the Western Slope, and the non-profit relies solely on federal funds to operate. Even still, it isn't the only organization which will feel the pinch of the Sequester.

The Department of Homeland Security is also expressing its concerns should lawmakers not come to an agreement, concerns including staff cuts to the Transportation Security Administration program (TSA) which could cause increasing passenger wait times at airport security checkpoints.

Other defense cuts are of concern with the proposed furloughs,which amount to unpaid time off. Across Colorado, the National Guard says furloughs of its technician employees would directly impact their readiness and ability to respond.

“The immediate impact of sequestration would be the proposed furloughs for our technician employees. The furloughs would directly impact our readiness and the ability to respond when requested by the governor for domestic emergencies,” National Guard Capt. Darin Overstreet said in a statement to KKCO 11 News.

There's still hope, though, still eight days to go for lawmakers to come to an agreement, and there's no question many will be watching to see how discussions play out.

"It would basically take away that ability for children to have that preschool experience,” Mayasich said of the potential cuts.

It's also worth noting some programs are immune from these spending cuts. That includes Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Affairs payments and student loans.

These spending cuts could also cost Colorado’s economy more than 48 million dollars in wages over the next few months, according to the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance.

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