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More Questions Than Answers On Sequester’s Local Impact

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jack Fink
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Congressional Budget Office says before the sequester, discretionary spending was set at more than $1 trillion.

After, it’ll be between $972-$978 billion — the first time in years it’s less than $1 trillion.

Republicans say the federal budget has shot up dramatically over the years, and that these cuts won’t be as dramatic as the White House says.

They point to the national debt which stands at $16 trillion.

We tried gauging local impact of the sequester, but the bottom line is — most don’t know.

Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health & Human Services says, “We’re in a state of limbo.”

Rena Honea, President of the Dallas AFT teacher’s union says, “I think this is just a guessing game right now. No one really knows anything.”

Days away from automatic spending cuts kicking in — And there are more questions than answers in north Texas — from public health to school programs.

The White House says unless Congress acts by this Friday, schools in Texas will lose federal funding to the tune of about $119 million — and that 930 teacher and teaching aide positions would be at risk.

Honea says the prospect of more cuts is painful and frustrating.
“Adults who campaigned to have good public schools yet these are the kinds of things they’re doing, they’re playing mind games and political games with the lives of students.”

The White House also says unemployment assistance in Texas would be cut by more than $2 million.

At major airports like DFW, sources say lines at the security checkpoints could be slightly longer because TSA baggage screeners will be furloughed.

Flights could be delayed by up to 90 minutes because the same would reportedly happen to air traffic controllers.

The White House also warns Texas would lose about $11 million dollars in public health funding — much of it used to prepare for infectious disease outbreaks and disasters.

But some of those dollars help fund vaccinations for children.

Thompson says, “It will do a lot of damage for families who count on local health departments to provide vaccinations to their kids and that’s critical especially if they don’t have a medical home when you talk about 40 percent uninsured in Dallas County.”

There’s a lot of concern about the impact the cuts will have on the military.

Analysts warn the pressure is on not just Republicans but Democrats and the White House too.

The President proposed the sequester, and members of Congress in both parties approved it.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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