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Cardin: Sequester cuts likely coming for Census, other federal agencies in Maryland

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Published on: Friday, March 22, 2013

By Tauren Dyson

Sen. Ben Cardin visited Monday the Census Bureau in Suitland to discuss the effects of sequestration and the future of government funding through the 2013 fiscal year.

Cuts are likely to take place at the facility, and the House of Representatives has voted to continue funding the federal government through September, but whether a compromise will be reached through that date seems uncertain.

Still, Cardin said that because of Maryland’s strong job market, the state would be more likely to stem the tide of the wave of federal cuts.

“Maryland is in much better shape than many other states in the country,” Cardin said. “Maryland’s unemployment numbers are much lower than the national average.”

Maryland’s economy is more heavily reliant on the federal government as a driver for its economy than most other states. Currently, the federal government employs 5.6 percent of Maryland workers versus 2.2 percent nationwide.  As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Cardin understands that a healthy economy in Maryland won’t insulate the state from the adverse affects of sequestration.

“When furloughs happen, and they will happen, it’s going to affect businesses,” Cardin said. “You are going to see neighbors lose jobs. We’re going to pay a heavy price here in the state of Maryland.”

Overall, sequestration will slash approximately $85 million from the federal budget. Sixty federal facilities, including the Census Bureau, are located in the state. Resulting cuts to the agency could reach $46 million, which would compound its fiscal woes after the House Appropriations Committee declined to raise the agency’s budget by $50 million.

Phil Sparks, co-founded of the Census Project, an advocacy group that seeks to protect funding for the agency. The statistical analysis is integral in tracking and reporting population trends throughout the United States. And deep cuts to the budget would only threaten to curtail any work done in that area, the agency to trim manpower and resources.

“These unique statistical activities are not only central to the nation’s democratic system of governance,” Sparks said in a statement to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-MO). “They will guide public and private sector decisions fundamental to the nation’s continued economic recovery and growth.”

Adria Thomas is a Forestville resident and a public affairs specialist at the Census Bureau. While she is preparing for the worst, she is still hoping for the best.

“I’m optimistic. … I believe in our government officials and hope they give us the right answers,” Thomas said. “I would say that the senator is working really hard to prepare us for the future budget constraints that we may face.”

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