Sequestration's Impact on Montgomery County
The First in a Four-Part Series: Many of the county's programs will be hit by the federal government's potential budget cuts.
Congress is on the clock. If changes are not made by Thursday at midnight, those across the nation will be affected by sequestration. The automated budget cuts will deliver a hit to Montgomery County programs, affecting many in the area.
"Unless Congress acts by March 1, a series of automatic cuts — called the sequester — will take effect that threaten hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs, and cut vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform," said a release from the White House.
The president has laid out his own plan for cutting the budget, but said that he is challenged in Congress.
"Unfortunately, many Republicans in Congress refuse to ask the wealthy to pay a little more by closing tax loopholes so that we can protect investments that are helping grow our economy and keep our country safe," said the release.
How will these cuts hit home? Pennsylvania is expected to be one of the "hardest hit" states, according to Forbes, with a projected 78,454 job losses expected.
Montgomery County will be among the areas of the state to see change, should sequestration come to fruition.
Frank Custer, director of communications for Montgomery County, said that "there will be several" effects of the cuts in our area.
"County residents will feel effects on a wide range of issues," said Custer. "A lot is tied to schools, teachers, education, and the county government does not have a lot to do with those programs."
However, Montco isn't safe from the proverbial ax.
"The county government itself will feel it in places like the public heath area," he said. "In Pennsylvania, we estimate we will lose $1.2 million in funds in public health areas."
Custer worries that such cuts would hurt programs like free HIV testing, offered by Montgomery County's Department of Health, or immunizations for children.
"It is estimated that 5,200 children will not be able to receive immunizations," said Custer. "That will affect the ability of our health department to meet those needs."
Currently, Montgomery County offers access for immunizations for measles, mumps and rubella, tetanus and whooping cough, as well as influenza, which may be jeopardized should sequestration cut their funding.
Programs providing nutritional assistance for seniors will also be hurt by cuts, according to Custer.
"Pennsylvania is to lose $850,000 in funding for meals for seniors, and that affects the County's ability to meet those needs," he said.
Overall, Custer said there are many areas where Montgomery County citizens may find shortcomings due to federal subsidization reductions.
"There are going to be wide-ranging effects," he said.
To take a closer look at these changes, Montgomery County Patch sites will be publishing a series called "Sequestration in Montgomery County." The four-part series of articles will take a closer look at each of the major changes local residents will notice as a result of Sequestration impacts.
Come back to Patch each day this week for more on this developing series.