Rhode Island would see nearly $40 million in federal funds cut from several programs if Congress fails to act this week to avoid sequester — an $85 billion federal spending cut, the Obama administration said Sunday.
In a move designed to pressure Republicans into accepting new revenues as part of a deal to prevent the sequester from taking effect on Friday, the White House released reports that outlined how those cuts would impact individual states, The Huffington Post reported.
In Rhode Island, education and military spending would take the greatest hit, the report reads. The state would lose $2.4 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 30 teacher and teacher aide jobs at risk. Rhode Island also would lose about $2.1 million in funds for about 120 teachers, aides and staff who help children with disabilities, the White House said.
The largest single cut would be to military spending. In Rhode Island, about 5,000 civilian employees of the Department of Defense would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $31.5 million. In addition, Army base operation funding would be cut by about $1 million.
According to Providence Business News, the sequester could impact operations and jobs at Generaly Dynamic's Electric Boat in Quonset Point. The Southern New England Defense Industry Alliance claims that the US Navy has already started to implement "cost-cutting measures" that will "significantly impact the defense industry in Rhode Island."
The report detailed other programs and services on the chopping block in Rhode Island, including:
- About 340 fewer low income students in Rhode Island would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 280 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college
- Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 200 children, reducing access to critical early education.
- Rhode Island would lose about $1.2 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. In addition, the state would lose another $359,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.
- Rhode Island would lose about $68,000 in Justice Assistance Grants that support law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.
- The state would lose about $126,000 in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement, meaning around 4,550 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment.
- In Rhode Island, around 530 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza and Hepatitis B due to reduced funding for vaccinations of about $36,000.
- Rhode Island would lose $101,000 to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases and natural disasters.
- The state would lose about $330,000 in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 400 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. The Rhode Island Department of Health would lose about $61,000 resulting in around 1,500 fewer HIV tests.
- Rhode Island would lose $188,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors.
- Rhode Island could lose up to $22,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 100 fewer victims being served
After the reports were released, congressional Republicans criticized the Obama administration for the PR move, The Huffington Post reported.
“Rather than issuing last-minute press releases on cuts to first responders or troop training or airport security, he should propose smarter ways to cut Washington spending. After all, Washington spending, even with the sequester, is bigger than it was when he got here,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said."If I was the governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I'd probably be freaked out," Walker told the Journal Sentinel, referring to that state's huge defense presence. "But we don't have big military bases (and) our military contractors have already started to account for this."
Unless Congress intervenes, the law requires the Obama administration to impose $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts to military and domestic programs on Friday, according to The New York Times. Those cuts would be the start of $1 trillion in cuts over the next decade.