White House’s sequester plan would affect budgets of Alachua County programs

By on February 28th, 2013

Travelers, preschoolers and senior citizens could be affected by the White House’s sequester, which will go into effect if Congress doesn’t come up with a new budget plan for federal agencies by the Friday deadline.

The budget cuts total $85 billion for this year and $1.1 trillion for the next 10 years, White House officials said.

The Federal Aviation Administration is planning for $600 million in cuts. These cuts will result in lost work time, pay wages and 238 air traffic control facilities closing down, according to the agency’s website.

Twenty air traffic control facilities in Florida could close due to these budget cuts, according to a list the administration put out.

Gainesville Regional Airport was not on the list, but several neighboring airports were, including Ocala International Airport, Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport and Orlando Executive Airport.

Alachua County’s  Meals on Wheels program, which delivers meals to low-income senior citizens, will have to stop the delivery of about 3,000 meals if the budget cuts take place, said Anthony Clarizio, director of ElderCare of Alachua County.

Clarizio said there are many aspects of the program that benefit seniors.

“The other really important part about the Meals on Wheels program is the social interaction that happens when the volunteer knocks on the door and spends a few minutes with that senior, because for a lot of our seniors, it’s the only contact they have with the outside world,” he said.

Senior citizen aren’t the only group that will be affected — preschoolers will be too.

About 3,000 children in the Florida Head Start program may no longer receive  education training, according to a White House report outlining potential budget cuts. Head Start is a national school readiness program that provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition and parent involvement services to children from low-income families, according to its website.

The report also states Florida will lose about $54.5 million in funding for primary and secondary school education. That means about 95,000 fewer students in the state will be served.

Other programs that will be affected by the sequestration are the military, law enforcement and fire rescue.

President Barack Obama will meet with Congress before the sequester takes place.

Samantha Dean wrote this story online.

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