Sequester would cost HV more than $18M in direct funds, Lowey says
VideosTravel delays 'to get worse' from sequester Obama warns sequester will cause job losses Boehner: Sequester like a 'meat ax'
Schools, municipalities and businesses in Westchester and Rockland counties stand to lose more than $18 million in direct federal funding unless President Barack Obama and Congress avert the massive defunding of programs slated to occur March 1 under the so-called sequester, according to a report released by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Harrison) on Monday.
The losses are a small fraction of the $85 billion in federal expenditures now on the chopping block, but they could have a significant impact on the Hudson Valley, Lowey said.
"They are senseless cuts, and they are slated to go into effect in just four days," the congresswoman said during a conference call with reporters. "Sequester means job losses, a slowing economy, a decline in critical investments, cuts to services that are important to all Americans."
White House: Cuts would impact NY teachers, travel
| Army: West Point could lose $92M in funding
| Pols worry sequester cuts would hit HV hard
DATABASE: Federal workers' salaries in the HV
PHOTOS: Travel delays 'to get worse' from sequester | Obama warns sequester will cause job losses | Boehner: Sequester like a 'meat ax'
Lowey's statements were made against a background of disagreement about the impact of the looming cuts. The report was compiled by the congresswoman's staff. Lowey is a ranking member of the House of Representative's Appropriations Committee.
ADDITIONAL STATEWIDE CUTS
The report did not include the local impact of statewide and nationwide cuts, including $3 billion in anticipated cuts to $51 billion in federal aid recently allotted to New York and other states for superstorm Sandy funding. Nor did it include reductions in funding for the Federal Aviation Administration.
"What you will see is a systematic reduction in all of the activities for Sandy relief that were funded," said Danny Werfel, controller in the White House budget office. "The $3 billion in reduction will be spread across a variety of different program areas."
Most of the federal budget is walled off from the cuts, so a narrow spectrum of government programs is slated for particularly steep reductions.
Social Security and veterans' programs are exempt, and cuts to Medicare are generally limited to a 2 percent reduction in payments to hospitals and doctors, likely amounting to about $10 billion. Most programs that help the poor -- such as Medicaid, food stamps, subsidized school lunches and Pell Grants for tuition -- are also exempt.
Nonetheless, Americans will feel the pain as the cuts take effect, Obama said in a meeting with governors at the White House on Monday.
"These impacts will not all be felt on day one," Obama acknowledged. "But rest assured the uncertainty is already having an effect."
SCHOOLS TO LOSE ABOUT $100,000 APIECE
Indeed, public officials in the Hudson Valley are nervous about the looming cutbacks. Local schools would lose $4.4 million, an average of $100,000 apiece, if the sequester takes place, Lowey's report stated.
The potential loss of funding distresses Assistant Superintendent Frank Fanelli of the Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District. By Lowey's reckoning, his district will lose nearly $120,000 if the sequester occurs.
"That $120,000, to us, is really a lot of money," Fanelli said. "It would have a devastating ripple effect for us. It would be a huge hardship."
Property tax caps and increased costs already have squeezed the district's finances, Fanelli said. He said two teachers in the district might lose their jobs if the district loses that much funding. He said he can't see how taxpayers in his distressed city would agree to tax hikes to make up the difference.
"Any way you slice it, poorer districts like ours would actually fare much worse than others," he said.
Lowey suggested that the cuts in funding for high-tech businesses and research would have far-reaching effects.
Defense Department contractors in the Hudson Valley would lose $9 million, her report said. The Army National Guard's Camp Smith training facility in Cortlandt Manor would lose $3.1 million. National Institutes of Health grants to local research institutions would shrink by $1.3 million.
Dr. Edward Halperin, chancellor and chief executive of New York Medical College in Valhalla, said his institution would lose around $600,000 in NIH funding.
That's a small part of the $12.4 million in active NIH grants to the college, but it's still significant, Halperin said. The money at stake is sufficient to hire a single assistant professor, who in turn would hire lab technicians, graduate students and expensive equipment for his or her work, he said.
"You're talking about highly compensated people, who spend money and hire other highly compensated people," Halperin said.
If federal funding dries up, opportunities will be lost, he said.
"Who knows about that 25-year-old grad student who says, 'Oh, biomedical research funding is so unreliable. I won't do a career in that.' That's a life loss," Halperin said.
Lowey's report said that local college students would lose a total of $224,000 in tuition aid, and local police departments would lose $85,300 in federal funding to incarcerate undocumented immigrants.
The report used figures compiled by the Congressional Budget Office, the New York State School Boards Association, the Army and other sources to anticipate how the sequester's across-the-board cuts -- 7.9 percent to defense and 5.3 percent cuts to other programs -- would affect Lowey's congressional district, which spans much of Westchester and Rockland counties.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.