Idaho in 'holding pattern' over sequestration cuts

Credit: KTVB

Idaho in 'holding pattern' over sequestration cuts

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by Justin Corr

Bio | Email | Follow: @JCorrKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on March 1, 2013 at 5:53 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 2 at 6:17 PM

BOISE -- The sequester is set to go into effect when the president signs the order by midnight Friday. It means billions in across-the-board cuts to federal funding. What specifically will be cut? It's hard to say right now.

"We're kind of in a wait and see mode," said David Fulkerson, Deputy Administrator of the Idaho Division of Financial Management.

He says the state knows the sequester means state and local government in Idaho will lose about $30 million in federal funding. But he, like many federal employees and those who depend on federal programs across the country, are in a holding pattern.

The sequester laws mandate that federal agencies cut not from their overall budgets, but rather a certain percentage from each program they fund. But where those cuts come from inside each program is something they're deciding right now.

"What's not known at the moment is how the federal agencies are going to administer that percentage cut, and whether they are going to do that with strictly furloughs of federal employees, or if they'll take some of that on the operating expenditure side," said Fulkerson.

Certain programs, like Medicare, are safe from cuts (although doctors could see their Medicare reimbursement cut). But the defense budget will be slashed.

Fulkerson says Gov. Butch Otter has been warning state agencies to prepare for this for about a year. So, he says Idaho is as ready as it can be, for whatever comes. "I think we've all known this had to come, for awhile. Now we're there and I think everybody's just waiting to see how that's going to affect everyone."

If furloughs do happen, 30 days notice will need to be given. A spokesperson for the Idaho National Guard says they're bracing for 810 employees to see one unpaid day off per week. Again, that's if furloughs happen. They expect to hear for sure in late March.

Fulkerson says everyone should know more about the specifics of these cuts next week, and even more in the coming weeks.

But, the White House gave a broad view of what cuts Idaho could see, including $6.8 million in military readiness, $3.7 million in teachers and schools, $1.2 million in maintaining clean air and water.

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