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Lawmakers From 46 States Warn: Sequester Will "Hammer" State Economies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
CONTACT: Charles Monaco, Director of Communications and New Media, Progressive States Network, cmonaco@progressivestates.org

Lawmakers From 46 States Warn: Sequester Will "Hammer" State Economies

National group of state lawmakers releases letter urging Congress to avoid a cuts-only approach to sequestration and include "significant revenue measures" in any deficit reduction plan.


New York, NY — State legislators from 46 states are sending a clear a message to Congress: if the federal budget sequester is allowed to take effect as scheduled later this week, the results would be devastating for state economies.

In an open letter released today by Progressive States Network, members of state legislatures from across the nation urged Congress to avert the sequester by passing a plan that "avoids further deep cuts to the funding priorities of all of our constituents, restores economic fairness, and helps rebuild the middle class."

"State legislators are responsible for constructing budgets that are fiscally responsible and protect the economic security of our constituents, and the cuts imposed by the sequester make that work much harder," said State Senator Joe Bolkcom (Iowa), Chair of the Board of Progressive States Network. "Especially at a time when many states are considering our own budgets, the last thing we need is the continuing threat of devastating federal cuts caused by yet another manufactured crisis in D.C. That’s why state lawmakers from across the nation are coming together to demand that Congress find a way to avoid these senseless, damaging cuts and to include significant new revenues in any deficit reduction plan."

The letter notes that these cuts would “come at a time when states already have been hobbled by the recession and a slow recovery,” with state and local governments having laid off 675,000 workers since the beginning of the Great Recession. It also highlights some of the ways in which the sequester is set to hit the states directly, including $4 billion in cuts to education, tens of thousands of additional layoffs of teachers, and reductions in funding that would result in fewer low-income women receiving cancer screenings and fewer children receiving vaccinations.

The release of the letter comes on the heels of the release a series of state-specific reports by the White House this week that further outline the depth and breadth of the cuts set to hit all 50 states starting on Friday. Some of the ways in which specific states will feel the pain of the sequester include:

  • In Michigan, about $22 million in funding for primary and secondary education would be cut, and about 25,000 fewer students would be served.
  • Approximately 1,170 fewer low-income students in Colorado would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college.
  • Montana would lose over $1.2 million in funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste.
  • Virginia would see about 90,000 civilian Department of Defense employees furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $648.4 million in total.
  • In Louisiana, approximately $488,000 would be lost in funding to provide meals for seniors.
  • Colorado would lose about $331,000 in funding for job search assistance, resulting in around 14,810 fewer people getting help to find employment.
  • Pennsylvania could lose up to $271,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 1,000 fewer victims being served.
  • And Washington state would lose about $1.7 million in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse.

For the full state legislator open letter, click here:

http://bit.ly/PSNSequesterLetter

For more on the state-by-state impact of the sequester, see Progressive States Network’s list of resources for all 50 states here:

http://bit.ly/Sequester50States

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Progressive States Network (http://www.progressivestates.org) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the work of progressive state legislators around the country and to the advancement of state policies that deliver on the issues that matter to working families: integrating immigrants into our communities, strong wage standards and workplace freedom, balancing work and family responsibilities, health care for all, smart growth and clean energy, tax and budget reform, clean and fair elections, and technology investments to bridge the digital divide.