Sequestration to Impact Central Texas Economy
Although I pride myself on having a firm grasp of the King's English (it IS a big part of my job, after all), but there have been a few words and/or terms we've become all too familiar with over the past several months. We survived the first fiscal cliff, but now the inaction and inability to come to an agreement on Capitol Hill has introduced us to another term: sequester.
By definition the term "sequester" is relatively simple: A general cut in government spending. However, the fallout from automatic spending cuts that will go into effect as of midnight March 1, 2013 will have far-reaching consequences. The effects won't be immediate, but they put every American in danger.
The impact on the Ft. Hood area will be substantial. In all, 52,000 government employees would face furlough, resulting in the loss of $275 million in gross annual pay and a $2.4 billion hit to the economy IN TEXAS ALONE. The 6,000 civilian employees at Ft. Hood would face up to 16 hours of furlough per two-week paycheck, which comes out to a 20 percent loss in salary.
That loss is felt by the rest of Central Texas, sparing no one on "the grid".
Ft. Hood contributes more than $25 billion annually to the economy, and businesses are bracing for a slowdown to an already iffy economy. Tim Tunstill, sales manager at Dodge Country Used Cars in Killeen, said he hasn't heard anyone talking about the cuts yet, but, "We saw sales slow down (in 2008), and we're just starting to get those numbers back to where they were before (2008). I'm hoping these cuts won't have a big impact on us".
Cuts to the Department of Defense and the military are literally only half the story.
50 percent of the $1.2 trillion in cuts triggered automatically in the event of a sequestration would come from the military, with the other 50 percent coming from domestic programs, including education.
While billions of dollars have already been cut from Texas Public Schools, more cuts are forthcoming. Cuts in all education budgets will be in the 8 percent range, and an estimated $5 million would be cut from the Killeen ISD 2013-2014 school year budget. Copperas Cove ISD will lose in excess of $1 million per school year over the next ten years.
We've all surely heard the phrase about certain substances rolling downhill, and we're all at the bottom of that (Capitol) hill looking up, waiting for another special delivery at the hands of an inactive congress. If the White House and congress feel such drastic measures are necessary, they shouldn't be left out of the fun.
If a single congressman (or woman) or senator is reelected while in the midst of the sequestration I'll lose the little faith I have left in the democratic process. If those currently in power can't keep America moving forward we should clean house and find people who can move us forward.
Yes we can, and yes we should.
So are you as worried about this as I am? What kind of impact will this have on your life, in the long and short run? Share your thoughts with us on how the sequestration will affect you and your family in the comments section below.