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Sequester could affect county

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Published on: Thursday, March 07, 2013

By Donna Broadway

Washington, DC- If you live in Montgomery County, the sequester may affect you in ways you don’t even know.

 The federal government is one of Montgomery County’s largest employers. In fiscal year 2012, Montgomery County had $5 billion in prime federal contracting awards and over 47, 000 residents work for the seven agencies located in the county with hundreds of thousands more making the trek to other agencies located in DC. on a daily basis.

On March 1, congress failed to reach create a plan that would stop automatic budget cuts totaling $85 billion over ten months affecting federal employees, schools, and federal programs. Maryland has 130,000 federal workers whose salaries could be cut 20 percent due to furloughs.

“The impact on Montgomery County from the sequestration could undo the economic gains we’ve made as the County and our country have begun to emerge from the financial crisis. Montgomery County has 47,000 federal workers and thousands of businesses that contract with the federal government. The loss to our County of millions of dollars in revenue could plunge us back into a severe slowdown causing budget shortfalls and a stagnant economy. We can’t let that happen,” said County Executive Ike Leggett.

The effects have already begun. The department of justice notified some of its employees of upcoming furloughs of a maximum of 14 days or two days every other week. The Department of the Army also informed unions that all civilian units may need to schedule up to 176 "non-contiguous hours" of furlough, equating to 22 eight-hour days. The furloughs will occur between April 21 and the end of the government's fiscal year on September 30.

Some have turned to part time work to supplement lost income.

Richard Kane International Limousine, received tens of dozens of employment inquiries from federal workers over the last week.

“We’ve received about a dozen calls in the last few days from government workers at all levels inquiring about part-time chauffer positions. Most are looking for only a specific day of work to replace their furlough day, others are looking to replace income lost due to a payroll related tax increase. I have been surprised by the number of calls we’ve received but I am not surprised that these folks are concerned about losing their income and are aggressively trying to find work, ” said Kane.

Sequestration will also affect 852,000 students who are apart of programs receiving grants or federal money. Maryland receives a title I grant $196 million from the federal government to provide support for low-income students, $200 million to support the needs of special education students and $90 million for Head Start in Maryland.

The five percent cut in funding would affect 11,728 low-income students at 30 schools across the state, lead to 198 layoffs of school employees, including teachers, layoff 100 special education teachers, cut services for 550 Head Start kids, and cause 164 Head Start teachers to lose their jobs.

"Sequestration will have a serious and disproportionate impact on job creation and economic growth in Maryland. The 60 non-military federal facilities and 17 military facilities in Maryland will see their ability to conduct operations significantly erode. Nearly 140,000 federal civilian employees who work in Maryland will face furloughs and potential pay cuts; and thousands of jobs in Maryland will be put at risk. Our students, small businesses, families, and first-responders would also be affected by devastating cuts to investments in education, law enforcement, infrastructure, innovation, research, and other areas that are critical to building a strong middle class,” Said, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

If carried out over 10 years, the sequester will amount to $1.2 trillion in total.

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