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How the Sequester Could Affect North Texas

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Congress has until midnight Saturday to stop $85 billion in spending cuts. (Published Friday, Mar 1, 2013)

    As budget discussions in Washington, D.C. come down to the wire, government officials say sequestration cuts would hurt North Texas schools, air travel, military operations, and more.

    The sequester -- automatic, across-the-board spending cuts -- will go into effect on March 1 if Congress fails to create an agreement.

    Below are examples of how Texas could be affected by the automatic budget cuts that are set to take effect Friday at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

    Click on each title to jump to that information, or simply scroll down.

    Federal Spending Cuts Could Hit Air Travelers

    [DFW] Federal Spending Cuts Could Hit Air Travelers
    The across-the-board spending cuts in Washington, D.C., slated to take effect next month could hit home when you try to leave home. (Published Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013)

    Education | Air Travel | Enviroment | Military | Jobs | Law Enforcement | Nutrition | Public Health

    The White House compiled the numbers from federal agencies and its own budget office. The numbers reflect the impact of the cuts this year. Unless Congress acts by Friday, $85 billion in cuts are set to take effect from March-September.  (See a statement from the White House on how the sequester could impact Texas, specifically, here.)

    As to whether states could move money around to cover shortfalls, the White House said that depends on state budget structures and the specific programs. The White House did not have a list of which states or programs might have flexibility.

    EDUCATION: 

    How Sequestration Affects National Monuments

    [DC] National Park Service Faces Major Cuts as Sequestration Looms
    The looming sequestration is forcing leaders at the National Park Service to look at their budget. Officials say that if the Friday deadline passes, park services will definitely get cut. (Published Thursday, Feb 28, 2013)

    The Texas state budget will lose $334 million due to the budget battle in Washington, mostly in cuts to public education programs.

    Budget experts told Texas lawmakers on Monday that the Texas Education Agency alone would lose $167.7 million in grants.

    Dallas and Fort Worth school districts would each stand to lose $659,000. Arlington ISD would take a bigger hit and could lose nearly $2 million -- about 10.5 percent of the district's overall budget -- if cuts go into effect.

    More than 285 schools will lose federal funding on July 1. Schools will also lose funding for special education and classes to teach English as a second language.

    Nutrition programs, early child intervention and family protective services will also see major reductions in funding.

    The Texas budget receives $34 billion from Washington every year and the law instituting automatic budget cuts is expected to take effect on Friday.

    Lawmakers complained that while the state will lose federal money, the federal regulations to receive that funding will remain in place.

    AIR TRAVEL:

    There could be longer lines and wait times at airports in North Texas due to automatic budget cuts expected to arrive March 1.

    Between March and this upcoming fall, the Secretary of Transportation said in a letter that $600 million needs to be cut from the budget.

    On Monday, representatives from DFW International Airport and federal officials had a meeting about how the cuts could boil down.

    The cuts impact most of the FAA's 47,000 employees and could mean fewer air traffic controllers and fewer inspectors from the FAA as plans call for employee furloughs.

    TSA cuts could be on the way, as well.

    "If that affects their work hours, work schedules, it could have delays because they don't have enough people to manage the planes," said Mark Duebner, aviation director for Dallas' Love Field.

    There's already concern among passengers.

    "It's going to be like three-hour lines, to be here three hours early is going to be ridiculous," said Kayla Margo, of Mansfield.

    "It will be challenging to say the least especially for people who travel all the time," said Martha Lee, of Bedford.

    Smaller airports in the region would lose air traffic controllers, meaning pilots would have to use open radio frequencies to announce landings and departures.

    Representatives for both Love Field and DFW said they are in constant communication with federal agencies about cuts and ways to minimize impact on passengers.

    It could take weeks, even months before the cuts trickle down if lawmakers don't come to an agreement.

    The National Association of Air Traffic Controllers said they expect a large impact starting in April if they are fuloughed one day per week.

    According to a document released by the group, DFW Airport's arrival rate could drop from 126 aircraft per hour to between 60 to 85 per hour depending on how traffic is handled by the radar control facility. Departures would also be cut, according to the group, from 90 aircraft per hour to 60 per hour.

    The group estimates some plans would reduce Love Field's arrival rate by 20-35 percent in good weather conditions -- and even more when the weather is worse.

    ENVIRONMENT:

    About $8.5 million in environmental funding is scheduled to be cut, including about $2.2 million in grants for fish and wildlife protection, according to the White House.

    MILITARY READINESS:

    About 52,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $274.8 million, federal officials said.

    About $233 million for Army base operations and about $27 million for Air Force operations in Texas is scheduled to be reduced.

    Additionally, the spending cuts would eliminate a sporting tradition; military jet flyovers of sporting events, used as training for pilots, would be reduced.

    The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project is also targeted by cuts, which would reduce the number of the fighters bought by the Navy. That could translate into lost revenue and potentially job losses for employees of Lockheed Martin, which builds portions of the fighter in Fort Worth.

    JOB SEARCH AID:

    The White House said about $2.2 million in funding for job search assistance, referral and placement would be reduced.

    LAW ENFORCEMENT:

    About $1.1 million in grants that support law enforcement, prosecution, courts, crime prevention, corrections and crime victim initiatives would be cut, the White House said.

    Immigration authorities have reportedly released detainees in areas around the county in order to save money ahead of the sequester cuts. Texas is one state reported by the Associated Press to have detainee releases.

    NUTRITION ASSISTANCE FOR SENIORS:

    About $3.6 million in funding for meals for seniors would be removed.

    PUBLIC HEALTH:

    About $2.4 million in funds to help Texas upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters and biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological events would be cut if a budget deal is not reached, federal officials said.

    About $6.8 million in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, and about $1.1 million in health department funding for HIV tests would be reduced.


    NBC 5's Greg Janda and Ray Villeda, and the Associated Press' Chris Tomlinson and other authors contributed to this collective report.