What will sequestration mean for Washington state?

It's not looking good for military contractors, students or teachers.
Stacks of money can be yours, without having to risk your own.

Stacks of money can be yours, without having to risk your own.

The biggest impact on Washington from federal sequestration will be the military cuts, according to state and federal figures provided by the office of Gov. Jay inslee. 

According to preliminary White House and state estimates, roughly 29,000 U.S. Department of Defense civilian employees in Washington state will likely be furloughed (put on unpaid leave) once sequestration budget cuts take effect. That would amount to a total cut of about $173 million; $124 million of that in U.S. Army funding. The effects of this are likely to expand beyond military, too: When people spend less money, sales tax revenues go down.

The state government is still sorting out the effects of sequestration, the $85 billion in arbitrary budget cuts that began last Friday after Republicans and Democrats failed to agree on an overall budget, so the dollar figures and calculations of the effects are not yet final.

The cuts that don't take effect immediately will be phased in at the beginning of the state or federal fiscal years, depending on how individual programs are funded. The state fiscal year begins July 1st; the federal fiscal year, not until October 1st.

Below is a hodgepodge of predicted effects of the federal sequestration on Washington. Numbers are approximate:

  • $11.6 million in lost federal education money would put 160 teachers' and teachers aides' jobs at risk.
  • 440 low-income students would lose their college aid. Another 180 would lose their right to work-study jobs to help pay for college.
  • 1,000 children would lose access to Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
  • 800 children would lose access to daycare. 
  • 2,850 fewer children would receive immunizations for measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, flu and Hepatitis B.
  • 3,800 fewer people would be admitted to substance abuse programs.
  • 4,300 fewer people would receive free HIV testing.
  • 500 domestic abuse victims would lose services.
  • The state Employment Security Administration would lose the equivalent of 100 full-time employees by mid-2014.
  • 1,300 low-income families would not receive energy-efficiency improvements to their homes.
  • 10,000 people would lose some assistance from the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.

The Republican-oriented state Senate is scheduled to unveil its proposed 2013-2015 budget in late March, while the Democrat-dominated House is expected to release its proposal in early April. Both will take the new federal cuts into account.


John Stang is a longtime Inland Northwest newspaper reporter who earned a Masters of Communications in Digital Media degree at the University of Washington. He can be reached by writing editor@crosscut.com.

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Posted Tue, Mar 5, 12:36 p.m. Inappropriate

The worst thing that could happen for certain a political party is … nothing. All these cuts are pure speculation. The administration controls who, what, where, and when of the cuts and if Obama wants to whack Head Start to gain political points in the 2014 elections, he won't be the first president that choose power over the common good. Of course his party isn't exactly known for their economic literacy or honesty.

Witness the former Speaker of the House Pelosi's claim of 500 million America jobs lost without the stimulus back in 2009. Fast forward to 2013 and Rep. Maxine Waters, long time liar from California and her claim ""over 170 million jobs" could be lost due to sequestration". The Republicans have their share of dummies but when it comes to economics these two can't be taken seriously, though it's fun to watch them try to extract their feet from their mouth.


Posted Tue, Mar 5, 3:31 p.m. Inappropriate

This approximately 2.3% "cut" is actually a reduction in the projected rate of growth in government spending. As the "unitary executive" (a term that mysteriously disappeared from public discourse when DubYa left office) Obama has it in his power to make these "cuts" as painless or painful as he wishes, and he seems to wish to make them as painful as possible. Just like the county officials who close libraries and parks, and threaten to lay off firefighters when a bond issue fails at the polls, this president is ready to "teach us a lesson" about how essential every cent that flows into DC really is. A president who cares about the welfare of the nation would be working to make this reduction as invisible as possible. This president has shown time and again that what he really cares about is amassing as much power in the hands of the Federal Government as possible. Making 2.3% a life or death proposition will soften people up for that ongoing power grab.

All the working men and women in the US took a real 2% cut in income this year due to the expiration of the payroll tax holiday. The least we can expect from the federal government is to absorb a 2% decrease in its projected spending without government officials acting like spoiled brats denied a candy bar before supper.


Posted Wed, Mar 6, 8:53 a.m. Inappropriate

What so-called sequestration means to me:

It means that our political leaders have finally conceived a manner in which the outflow of revenue can be slowed without damage to their individual stature or credibility.

Now, instead of "us against them" (where "us" is regular people), it's now "them against them" (where "them" are agencies which receive the cash).

Every "us" wins.

Posted Wed, Mar 6, 9:23 a.m. Inappropriate

I deeply appreciate Crosscut's legislative coverage. Mr. Stang's reports are far more informative than anything provided by The News Tribune.

Nevertheless he neglects to mention the sequester's devastating impact on federally funded lower-income- housing programs. These were already severely downsized by attacks that began with the Reagan Administration and have continued relentlessly under both parties ever since.

For some local details, including a brief interview with the head of the Tacoma Housing Authority, see "How Sequester's Sword Slashes Vital Programs for Lower-Income People" in http://lorenbliss.typepad.com/loren-bliss-outside-agitators-notebook/2013/03/economics-below-the-salt-bad-news-slightly-better-news.html

Posted Wed, Mar 6, 11:09 a.m. Inappropriate

Approximately 600 fewer households will not receive a Section 8 housing voucher in King County over the next year due to sequestration. The average income of a family on the program is $13, 327. The likely result is that many of these families will find themselves homeless. This has high long-term costs to our communities – especially to children. School districts reported more than 4,400 homeless children in local schools during the 2010-2011 school year, a sharp increase from the prior year. Children who are homeless or couch surfing show significantly lower academic achievement and higher drop-out rates.


Posted Wed, Mar 6, 11:51 a.m. Inappropriate

Cuts to the military can have benign side effects: less industrial-strength pollution in Puget Sound; quieter skies; less vehicle use and impact on the highway infrastructure; fewer lower-income families migrating into the state following low-pay military contract work. Not to mention, that we all have been paying in our federal taxes to support programs unfriendly to humans everywhere and the health of the planet such as the F-35 half-trillion dollar boondoggle. Maybe if we squeak loud enough, some of the savings can trickle down to domestic programs including housing and education; the alternative would be to continue to burn money on F-35s for no earthly good.


Posted Wed, Mar 6, 12:49 p.m. Inappropriate

Yet, McDermott, Murray, Cantwell, and the federal bureaucracy downtown apparently will not suffer any layoffs, furloughs, cutbacks, and/or reductions. Are there not close to 200,000 new federal employees under Obama? 16,000 more projected IRS duty for Obamacare?? "SEQUESTER ME, BRO!!" and let the misplaced priorities be exposed for all to see!


Posted Fri, Mar 8, 5:36 p.m. Inappropriate

This is the idiotic thing about sequestration. If layoffs cause the unemployment rate in a state to rise above 9%, then the unemployed in the state will again be able to give the unemployed 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. So they are throwing people out of work and thereby increasing expenditures on unemployment insurance.


Posted Fri, Mar 8, 6:09 p.m. Inappropriate

That's our government doing it. Don't you love it?


Posted Fri, Mar 8, 6:30 p.m. Inappropriate

You can rationalize any nimber of reason, such as these are increases in last years budget, spending is still higher and a million other reasons this isn't bad. Tell that to the furloughed workers, the mother kicked off of WIC, the closed day care centers. All this reasoning doesn't amount to a hill of beans when people in just one state are impacted like this. This isn't even the worse case scenario. California and Virginia get hit the hardest with Virginia losing 650,000 please explain why this ok to these people. The GOPT refuses to go along with Simpson Bowles as they said they would. Balanced approaced cuts and revenue. To say we just have a spending proble is naive, we also have a revenue peoblem. It takes both cuts and revenues to close this gap. Austerity is NOT an option


Posted Sat, Mar 9, 6:59 p.m. Inappropriate

You can blame it on the President, his administration controls who gets the axe and how much waste is allowed to be continued. The Democrats want to have jobs cut hurt and you'll see more of them. They aren't interested in trimming fat or having an efficient government, they just want to maintain their status as the leading power brokers and their grip on the reins of government.


Posted Thu, Mar 14, 4:23 p.m. Inappropriate

The idea that this is a plan of the president's is a well established fallacy based on erroneous reporting by Bob Woodward. Similar to his erroneous reporting of receiving threats from the White House and his well-known inaccurate slash job on John Belushi that has been refuted by everyone he interviewed.


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