Sequester cuts would have serious effects locally

2013-02-28T20:45:00Z 2013-03-06T13:36:00Z Sequester cuts would have serious effects locallyBy JAMES DAY, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times
February 28, 2013 8:45 pm  • 

The federal budget standoff will have serious implications locally as agencies ranging from the city of Corvallis to Oregon State University face cuts in housing and transit programs, school lunches and research.

It begins to come to a head Friday, a deadline set late last year when the country faced a “fiscal cliff” and President Barack Obama and congressional leaders forged a budget deal that would postpone automatic spending cuts for two months.

But the partial resolution passed on Jan. 1 expires Friday, and $85 billion in across-the-board spending “sequestration” cuts are set to kick in, with no agreement in sight.

“Let’s hope they come to their senses in Washington and figure this thing out,” said state Rep. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis. “If sequester happens, we’ll have a tough road ahead of us. We don’t have additional funds to backfill those losses ... My hope is that Congress will see that this is unworkable ... We need long-term solutions.”

Gelser spoke Tuesday at a community forum on federal budget issues organized by community activist Leah Bolger. Also appearing were Benton County Commissioner Annabelle Jaramillo, Ward 8 Corvallis Councilor Biff Traber and Corvallis School Board Vice Chairman Tom Sauret.

Jaramillo noted that much of the federal money local agencies receive trickles down or passes through state government first.

“Most county functions are mandated by the state and the feds,” said Jaramillo, who is in her fourth term as commissioner.

Officials said that agencies would be unlikely to feel the effects of the cuts immediately and that impacts likely will become more severe over time.

“We’ll begin to notice (sequestration) soon,” said Jaramillo. “We’re still trying to cope with this. You just try to pick the crisis to go after first.”

Here is a look at the impact of the sequester cuts agency by agency:

City of Corvallis

Total federal assistance for 2012 was $3.65 million, according to Traber. Approximately two-thirds of the money was for transit and housing services, although the depth of federal largesse extended to $36,000 from the Department of the Interior for the Arts Center Plaza.

Finance Director Nancy Brewer said federal funds “outside of housing and transit are more focused grants for specific purposes. We would expect these types of grants to end, though we believe that any grants already authorized would continue.”

Traber noted that just 5 percent of city expenditures depend upon federal money.

Oregon State University

The biggest impact on the university is research, with $9.5 million in programs at risk, according to Kate Sinner, director of federal relations. Lesser impacts for OSU, said Sinner, are $469,000 in land-grant capacity funds and $100,000 for student aid.

Benton County

Approximately 27 percent — or $50 million of the county’s $183 million biennial budget — consists of state and federal grants, said Jaramillo. She noted that a renter’s assistance program run by the Community Services Consortium (which also includes Linn and Lincoln counties), already has been suspended.

Jaramillo said the county lost the $5 million that came from a program that once paid counties to offset losses in timber revenue.

Corvallis School District

Eight percent of district funding comes from federal sources, said Sauret. The figure has been as high as 12 percent in recent years.

“Most of the money helps those most in need and most at risk,” he said.

In the most recent budget cycle, the district received $2.5 million from the Department of Education, mainly for assistance for low-income and disabled students. Another $1.4 million came from the Department of Agriculture for food and nutrition programs.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. econoline
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    econoline - March 01, 2013 3:24 pm
    Is that the same Sara Gelser who just voted to throw another 450 million dollars of Oregonian's tax money into the sinkhole known as the Columbia River Crossing I-5 freeway expansion? 5 miles of freeway widening designed to cut the commute time (of mostly washington commuters) by a mere 1 minute. Come on Sara!
  2. Austin
    Report Abuse
    Austin - March 01, 2013 12:21 pm
    Yes, breath et al…and all the other government departments are so well run, are operating on a shoe-string, have proper oversight and accounting, and are absolutely necessary for the federal government to be involved in and aren’t overreaching at all!

    I’m sure the taxpayers in N. Carolina could give a rip about bus services in Corvallis….and yet they are asked to pay for it. Think the taxpayers in Corvallis have any concern or desire to pay for a bathroom at some park in Kansas?
  3. Breathe
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    Breathe - March 01, 2013 10:57 am
    To the author of the article, James Day. You say that the purpose of the article was to identify what might happen here under sequestration, but It seems to me that the purpose of the article SHOULD have been to cover the event, and the purpose of the event was to connect the dots between the federal budget and that of the goods, services and programs in Corvallis that are funded by federal dollars.
    Your job as a journalist should have been to cover the event, but you totally ignored the major point of the seminar. I wouldn't have objected to some mention of the sequestration, but to totally ignore the Pentagon spending makes it seem as if you were deliberately avoiding talking about it--which is exactly the problem we are constantly fighting. No one in the media will talk about cutting the Pentagon budget. I was hoping that this seminar would force people (read: journalist) to recognize the elephant in the room. I think the people who attended could see it, which is why you are getting all these comments.
  4. JimDay Staff
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    JimDay - February 28, 2013 10:07 pm
    Thanks for the comments. Appreciate the feedback. The purpose of this story was to identify what might happen here under sequestration. Editorializing on the Pentagon budget would not have been appropriate in a news story such as this. Also, please note that defense cuts would be at 8% and other programs 5% under sequestration.

    Keep reading!

    James Day
  5. Don Anderson
    Report Abuse
    Don Anderson - February 28, 2013 4:31 pm
    The previous comments correctly focus on the one problem I find with with your article. The writer neglected to mention anything about our "Bloated" pentagon budget. Being an ex-military man myself, I am all too familiar with the excesses from the pentagon down to the basics in the military, of the waste and neglect of troops once they have done the damage our country asks them to inflict on others. Congress is at fault here, another of the elephants in the room that goes unchecked, and even when the top brass says we don't need specific weapons & aircraft that have proved not so efficient, representatives seeking money from their local corporations who build these items, vote for even more funding to prop up one failure after another. We are to forget America spends more on defense than every other major nation combined and that the Pentagon, whose annual budget is now approaching World War II levels in inflation-adjusted terms, has lost track of trillions of taxpayer dollars. In light of those troubling truths, we are nonetheless urged by Beltway Republicans to focus on the fact that defense spending is “4.9 percent of our gross domestic product, significantly below the average of 6.5 percent since World War II", as a recent Wall Street Journal editorial proclaimed. We could cut the pentagon budget all day, all week, all month, for months to come and still be the strongest nation, if that's the criteria, without putting our troops or country in further harm or furloughing some 800,000 civilians from that organization alone, or causing severe damage to our infra structure, teachers, police & fire departments. Contact your reps today! Get involved!
  6. Jack
    Report Abuse
    Jack - February 28, 2013 2:02 pm
    ...it has been "Jubilee" time for several years now -
  7. Gene
    Report Abuse
    Gene - February 28, 2013 12:33 pm
    I agree with Bart above we need serious cuts in the bloated military budget.
    We need to help our communities now. Our world wide police action needs to stop so we can help our own people who are in need.
  8. Vernon Huffman
    Report Abuse
    Vernon Huffman - February 28, 2013 11:59 am
    IMHO, the whole budget debate is smoke & mirrors. Congress still has the authority, delegated to private bankers since 1913, to create money without taxing or borrowing. The US dollar is still the default global reserve currency, even though since 1972 it is backed only by faith in the US government. If Congress had the wisdom to spend in ways that enhanced people's lives, that faith would go up and the currency be stabilized. Sadly, very few dare to even mention such truths.

    For decades, we've been locked in a dead-end game, with the best politicians that money can buy spending on killing so fast that Pentagon accountants can't even tell us where $2 Trillion went (that story broke on 9/10/01). Our government subsidizes exploitative corporations in a race to see who can turn the most irreplaceable natural resources into toxic waste.

    There are two ways for the debt based economy to end, global devastation or genuine nonviolent revolution. Those of us who choose the latter must support each other to refuse to pay another dime to the exploiters. The 1% need us a lot more than we need them. General strike, broad boycotts, tax refusal, and nonviolent noncompliance are our organizing foci.

    Sound the trumpet for the Jubilee, where all debts are canceled, all prisoners released, and all the soldiers come home.
  9. Breathe
    Report Abuse
    Breathe - February 28, 2013 10:57 am
    It seems like the reporter only got half the story. Yes, we are going to be hurting if ANY cuts are made to programs like Head Start, public housing, drug rehab, jots training...why? Because those programs are already operating on a shoestring. We are spending less on education now than we did decades ago. There is no need for any "austerity" measures. Yes we should cut spending--but the cuts need to come out of the monstrous Pentagon budget--not out of the programs which actually add to the quality of life, like housing, health care and the environment.
    We also need to put revenue back on the table. It is shameful to ask children to lose their seat in Head Start while big mega-companies avoid paying a penny in taxes by going through off-shore accounts.
  10. OutsideTheBox
    Report Abuse
    OutsideTheBox - February 28, 2013 10:36 am
    We all know the elephant in the room here is the Pentagon budget. Why does no one want to gut that sacred cow? Could it be that military contractors donate millions to congressional and presidential election campaigns?
    [Northrop Grumman; Lockheed Martin; GE; Boeing; and Raytheon combined to spend over $15M on political campaigns in 2012.]
    The Pentagon draws from the same pot of discretionary funds as the other federal "trickle down" funding supporting local transportation, school lunches and country mental health program, among others. The Cato Institute, with which I normally disagree, tells it like it is here: http://goo.gl/8p0di. We're still funding the Pentagon like it's the Cold War. Military contractors have become so spoiled by war-related funding, they scream bloody murder when we threaten cuts.
    How about this?: According to CBO projections, the Pentagon budget, even if sequestration kicks in, will continue to grow, but at a slightly slower pace (from $593B in 2014 to $663B in 2020). So how can those "cuts" be "devastating," as former SecDef Panetta has said?
    Answer: They're not. Those are the voices of war-profiteer contractors about get a health dose of reality.
    Please call your congressman and senators. They need to hear from us RIGHT NOW.
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