WatchSonoma Watch

Local effects of federal budget cuts still unknown


Local government officials are scrambling to assess the impact — still largely unknown — of the $85 billion in federal spending cuts due to begin taking effect Friday.

Unless or until President Barack Obama and Congress reach another budget agreement, the so-called sequester cuts are expected to trim long-term unemployment benefits, cause airport delays and reduce services at national parks, among other national impacts.

Sonoma County sealIn California, a nearly $90 million funding cut for public schools could eliminate 1,210 teacher and aide jobs, while Head Start services for about 8,200 children would be eliminated, according to a White House report.

But officials said Wednesday they haven’t calculated the impact at the county level.

“We don’t know how this is going to play out,” said Jim Leddy, the county’s governmental affairs manager.

“It gets very complicated,” he said, noting that some federal funding comes directly to the county and some is distributed by the state.

County agencies, including health and social services and the Sheriff’s Office, are trying to determine how they may be affected, Leddy said.

More than half of the nation’s 2.1 million federal government workers may be required to take furloughs, which cannot start until April 1.

Possible closure of the control tower at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, which Leddy said would idle about 14 Federal Aviation Administration workers, won’t happen until April.

Alaska Airlines service at the airport would continue during a tower shutdown, airport officials said.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, said last week the sequester could cost California 225,000 federal jobs.

Sonoma County’s 1,400 federal workers make up less than 1 percent of the 180,700-person workforce, a marginal amount, said Robert Eyler, director of the Center for Regional Economic Analysis at Sonoma State University.

But federal program cuts could lop off jobs at nonprofit organizations or government agencies, and every job loss ripples through the economy in reduced spending on goods and services, he said.

Where the cuts will fall is the key, Eyler said, and the answer is largely unknown.

“It’s all reaching around in the dark,” he said.

Much of the federal budget is insulated from the automatic cuts, including Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps and veterans programs.

The sequester’s blunt approach, with cuts falling heavily on the Pentagon, was intended to prompt compromise between the White House and congressional Republicans on a deficit-reduction plan.

But it hasn’t worked out that way yet, with Obama and congressional leaders set to meet Friday at the White House and most Americans, according to polls, largely unconcerned about the impasse.

“We need a balanced, bold plan that creates jobs, cuts spending, reforms our tax code so that everyone is paying their fair share and protects Social Security and Medicare,” Thompson said in a statement Wednesday.

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said he is backing a House Democratic plan that hits the sequester target of $1 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years by boosting taxes on high-income earners, ending some tax breaks to oil and gas companies and curbing farm subsidies.

The sequester plan is “too abrupt,” Huffman said, adding that it would eliminate 700,000 jobs nationally.

California accounts for nearly one-third of the job losses due to its concentration of defense facilities, universities and large population, he said.

Nationwide, about 2 million long-term unemployed people could see a $30 cut in benefit checks now averaging $300 a week.

Eyler, the SSU economics professor, said he considers the sequester “a necessary evil,” noting that $85 billion in the current federal fiscal year is “a relatively insignificant amount of spending.”

The cuts would exert some “downward pressure” on economic growth, he said, which might be offset by increased business investment prompted by clear economic signals from Washington, he said.

“The biggest problem (for business and the financial markets) is uncertainty,” Eyler said. The sequester cuts, whether “good, bad or indifferent,” would offer certainty, he said.

This report includes information from Associated Press. You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.

18 Responses to “Local effects of federal budget cuts still unknown”

  1. Just Me says:

    Hey Mockingbird you say when people are working again but what incentive is there for them to go to work? They are getting fat and happy on my hard earned tax dollars and don’t want to see the Socialist Programs cut because then they really might have to go back to work!

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  2. Bill me says:

    @mockinbird-”Obama has been cutting and cutting and cutting”. Wow. Even Obama doesn’t believe that one!

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  3. Jim says:

    What a bunch of claptrap. The world is not coming to an end because the government cuts its budget by about 2.7%.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  4. The Answer says:

    When will Sonoma County government realize that they should be self reliant.

    Like a lazy teenager, this government whines if his parents allowance is reduced for his poor grades or missing curfew.

    It well past time this government pulls up its pants and ties its shoes and says we can do it alone without a federal handout.

    I forgot, this is the new socialist regime which always relys on daddy for money and guidance. What a shame.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  5. bear says:

    This is how the Roman Empire went down.

    Overextended and with nobody willing to support it.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

  6. James Bennett says:

    Jean: Obama is implementing UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development. He was installed to do so.
    Hell, he’s the first President to Chair The UN Security Council.
    The Agenda is about orchestrating our decline; in any way you care to define the word decline.
    That’s why in the wake of the biggest expansion of government in history, he dismantled The Small Business Administration. As we all know small business is the biggest job provider and drives most of our economy.
    That’s why gas has doubled since he’s been in office (we have PLENTY of oil).
    That’s what the immigration and export of jobs thing is about, everything that ails us.

    All part of The Plan.

    Through our ICLEI and ABAG adherence we are on board, at least our local ‘leaders’ are.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Jean Anderson says:

    Quote – “The Republicans lie and their very stupid voters continue to BELIEVE against their own self interests. Darwin Award winners all.”

    It’s disgusting that this kind of garbage passes for intelligent thought in Sonoma County. it’s also sad that truly stupid people who voted for Obama fail to see he is a liar and hypocrite of the worst order, and his idiotic policies are hurting the country.

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 6

  8. Follower says:

    Make no mistake about it. Despite the fact that Jorge Soto is right, these are NOT “budget cuts” they are budget “increase reductions” with more money being spent this year than last…

    The heads of each Dept affected have certainly gotten the “memo”!
    “Cut anything and everything you can that will inflict the most pain on the most people first!

    THEN we can blame the Republicans when the people start screaming”.
    As if “The Republicans” are still relevant in any way…

    Thumb up 19 Thumb down 5

  9. GAJ says:

    Government definition of “cuts” is different than yours or mine.

    “(when) the sequester goes into effect, the federal budget for this year will still be larger than last year’s ($3.553 trillion in 2013 vs. $3.538 trillion in 2012). With the sequester in effect, federal non-defense spending will still be 10 percent higher than it was in 2008.”


    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 5

  10. Snarky says:

    Full effects of Federal “Obama-care” are yet another example of “law” that was enacted without the idiots of government even reading what they approved.

    No lie, people. There were documented cases of Congress admitting that they did not read all that they voted on.

    Imagine that. WE pay them to READ whether they like it or not… and they just take our paycheck and vote to enact “law” … with the understanding that “the courts will sort it out later.”

    Job security for all the government people. 20 years of litigation due to just plain lazy, pretend government “work.”

    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 6

  11. James Bennett says:

    Jorge, this is what propaganda looks like.

    The crash that’s coming has been carefully orchestrated for a long time.

    Our Government at time is largely a charade to portray a genuine effort.
    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    A scrared, impoverished citizen, farmer, state, city, even an entire country will go along with things an abundant, self sufficiant entity simply won’t.

    This is the globalist MO.

    Petaluma is just like Portugal.

    Thumb up 27 Thumb down 7

  12. Steve Humphrey says:

    Maybe now we can begin to get back to the days when State and Local Governments were funded entirely by their constituents. When did we decide that sending tax dollars to Washington so that they can then be returned back to us, with numerous strings attached, was a great idea?

    Thumb up 24 Thumb down 4

  13. ExRPeer says:

    “Stimulus”, something that causes a response

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  14. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Typo-That’s “each REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT has frittered away”.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 24

  15. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Hammer, I hope you don’t have a job or a business that depends on government expenditures. When furloughs are given to government employees they don’t spend money.

    It’s a big hit to the economy and Wallstreet is already responding. The business community is against this, even the banking industry. THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING.

    The Republican party is not the party of fiscal conservatives. Haven’t been since Reagan. Each Democratic President has raised the deficit by leaps and bounds. Bush frittered away the surplus Clinton left and Obama inherited the whole mess. If he hadn’t given those tax cuts we would have been able to weather the housing bubble better AND WOULD BE IN A BETTER PLACE RIGHT NOW. BECAUSE we continue to spend (look at Europe’s austerity and see how bad off they are-a current EXAMPLE of how tightening belts during financial crisis times actually perpetuates a recession and makes it worse) this country is still holding it’s head above water. When people are working again the deficit WILL go down. It always has and always will. Obama is not a socialist, he’s right of center (true center not rightwing skewed center). I would consider him a moderate-either Republican or Democrat-right in the middle.

    Boehner and others keep talking about the cuts that haven’t been made but the tax rate for their poor, poor rich friends went up. WHINE, WHINE, WHINE THEY GO fully believing the squeaky wheel gets the grease and obstructing any meaningful piece of legislation and refusing to agree to important appointments-EVEN IF THOSE APPOINTMENTS ARE REPUBLICAN. Obama has been cutting and cutting and cutting.

    The Republicans lie and their very stupid voters continue to BELIEVE against their own self interests. Darwin Award winners all.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 36

  16. The Hammer says:

    The government needs to learn how to operate on less of our bucks. This is a good start.

    Thumb up 31 Thumb down 5

  17. Jorge Soto says:


    The reductions the sequesters require are reductions in the rate of increased spending from those originally planned by Obama and authorized by Congress. Since the federal government has not had a budget in four years, even though federal law requires it to have one every year, these are planned expenditures, not budgetary items, on which the president wants to spend more money. Congress does not feel bound to obey the laws it has written; hence it has disregarded the legal requirement of a budget. Without a budget, the president has great leeway as to how to allocate funds within each department of the executive branch of the federal government.

    Nevertheless, even if these sequesters do kick in, the feds will spend more in 2013 than they spent in 2012. That’s because the sequesters are not cuts to spending; rather, they are reductions in planned increases in spending.


    Thumb up 32 Thumb down 7

  18. James Bennett says:

    Here we go.

    Thumb up 20 Thumb down 3

Leave a Reply