Hagan: Difficult decisions ahead on sequestration
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-North Carolina, called on her constituents to let lawmakers in Washington about the potential damages impending sequestration will have on the state.
In a telephone press conference with reporters Tuesday, Hagan said that if sequestration, or across-the-board federal budget cuts, are allowed to go into effect, the ramifications will be felt by most in North Carolina. The cuts for the current fiscal year will go into effect unless Congress acts by Friday.
“I don’t think the middle class should keep paying the price when Washington can’t work together,” Hagan said.
According to a report from the White House Budget Office, the state stands to lose up to 22,000 civilian Department of Defense employees this year which, Hagan said, will have a far-reaching impact on the entire state.
“That is damaging to our middle class families,” Hagan said. “If we cut $120 million out of their pay, we are looking at small businesses, restaurants and others that have been working to get back on their feet being effected by these cuts.”
The report also indicated that $141 million in base operations would be cut for the Army and Air Force along with a complete cancellation of aircraft depot maintenance at the U.S. Navy facility in Cherry Point.
“The furlough notices are going out as we speak and that is about 22,000 in North Carolina,” Hagan said. “I have had small businesses that have contracts with the Department of Defense that have been told their contracts are no longer valid and they are looking at laying people off because of that.”
In addition, the state stands to lose $25.4 million in funding for primary and secondary education. The White House report said that leaves up to 350 teacher and teacher aide jobs at risk.
“We need to work to reduce spending in a resourceful way,” Hagan said. “This is not the way we should be working and we certainly need to be working on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers.”
Congressional Republicans have balked at White House requests to couple some budget cuts with an increase in taxes on the wealthy. Republican leadership has said they want “significant” budget reduction.
Hagan countered by saying that over the last four years Congress has cut $2.5 trillion from the federal deficit and trimmed spending by $1.4 trillion.
She said if the cuts go into effect they will be “immediate and long term.” However, even if Congress does not reach a resolution by Friday, she said they will continue to negotiate to solve the problem.
“I am hoping that we can get something done,” Hagan said. “I am troubled by the sense of inevitability of that happening on Friday.”