The federal government is undertaking $85 billion in spending cuts between now and the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, after Congress and the president failed to resolve the so-called sequester automatic spending cuts set in motion a year and a half ago.
Military spending accounts for half the cuts, while the remainder comes from targeted social programs. The cuts touch sensitive areas.
Approximately 1,320 of the 2,300 federal employees at Travis Air Force Base represented by the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1764 face weekly furlough days that are expected to begin April 22. The base in January put in place a temporary hiring freeze and announced plans to eliminate spending – and positions – that are not deemed critical to the Air Force mission.
These cuts will affect the local economy directly as people affected by the cuts spend less money on local goods and services.
Officials with Solano County Meals on Wheels may have to start a waiting list for any new program participants, something the organization has not done before. The organization serves more than 650 meals a day and more than 160,000 annually, according to local program officials. Federal dollars account for 70 percent of program spending.
The Area Agency on Aging expects a cut of 8.2 percent for the current fiscal year, which is two-thirds of the way complete.
The regional Head Start program is anticipating a 5.1 percent cut in funding. Head Start serves approximately 900 children and their families in Solano County, program officials report.
Local schools are bracing to lose a portion of federal impact aid dollars that help support schools that are located near military installations.
The automatic spending cuts are a direct result of action taken in the summer of 2011 to reach a budget compromise. The legislation created a “supercommittee” of Democrats and Republicans charged with hammering out a deal. The bipartisan committee failed, which set in motion the automatic cuts we’re experiencing today.
Congress and the president had more than a year to “fix” the budget, but instead fought over the debt ceiling, dragged their fiscal feet though last year’s presidential election and managed only to delay the day of reckoning on the automatic spending cuts from Jan. 1 to last week.
Granted, runaway federal spending needs to be put in check, but not this way. This meat-cleaver approach to budgeting is the definition of dysfunctional government.
Our elected leaders should be ashamed of themselves.