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Sequester Looms: Minnesota Poised to Lose $117-Million

PHOTO: Some 85-billion dollars in automatic spending cuts across the country will begin to take effect tomorrow if there is no deal in Washington D.C. to avoid sequestration. Photo credit: Tax Credits
PHOTO: Some 85-billion dollars in automatic spending cuts across the country will begin to take effect tomorrow if there is no deal in Washington D.C. to avoid sequestration. Photo credit: Tax Credits
February 28, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Without a last minute miracle out of Washington, D.C., $85 billion in automatic spending cuts across the country will begin to take effect tomorrow as mandated under sequestration. The reductions will be rolled out over the next seven months.

The impact will hit hard locally, said Richard Kolodziejski, a spokesman for the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE).

"The idea of automatic cuts as a way to govern is really troubling," Kolodziejski said. "We feel that the federal government is really rolling the dice on people's lives here in Minnesota, and it's going to impact a lot of areas that we represent."

Under the sequester, Minnesota will lose an estimated $117 million in funding and tens of thousands of public- and private-sector jobs in the aftermath. Among the areas that would see reduced funding in the state, Kolodziejski warned, are education, law enforcement, protections for clean air and water, and public health.

"Those include infectious diseases, natural disasters, biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological events that our people are trained to respond to," he explained. "We stand to also lose about $1.2 million in grants that will help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around about 1,700 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs."

In addition, Kolodzeijski said, the automatic cuts would have double consequences for the state's employment picture because thousands of jobs are expected to be lost under the sequester, while at the same time the Minnesota programs that help people find work will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding.

"We have a lot of employees who work to provide job search assistance and you know when it's going to impact jobs in Minnesota that could roll all the way down to veterans who come back from overseas. So these are real problem areas that certainly be impacted by the funding. And this does not help out the middle class, does not help the economy at all."

Congress and President Obama agreed on the sequester last fall, hoping to come up with a more fleshed-out plan on spending cuts before tomorrow's deadline. That never happened.

More information is available at http://1.usa.gov/Wd5SHj.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN