It's a moment Congress and the president swore would never come -- but here it is. Across-the-board budget cuts, "sequestration" if you prefer, will affect the military and domestic programs to the tune of $85 billion. How will those cuts be felt in California in defense, health and education?
It's a moment Congress and the president swore would never come -- but here it is. Across-the-board budget cuts, "sequestration" if you prefer, will affect the military and domestic programs to the tune of $85 billion.
The sequester could touch every aspect of Californians' lives. Reporters Charla Bear, Scott Shafer, Mina Kim, Alison St. John and Sasha Khokha summarized what some of the most significant impacts could be.
Local school districts would lose federal funding for special education and low-income students' programs, among others.
University students would lose millions of dollars in financial aid and thousands of work-study jobs in California alone. The research budget for the University of California would be slashed.
In some cases, services can't be cut, so teachers would be laid off instead. That means class sizes would swell.
The good news: The cuts are big, but local administrators say their share would be small enough that the pain wouldn't be too severe. San Francisco Unified School District would lose up to $4 million; Fresno USD would lose up to $6 million; Los Angeles USD would lose up to $72 million.
Twenty-three smaller airports in California would close, including Livermore, San Carlos, Napa, Santa Rosa and Concord, among others in the Bay Area. While private planes could still land there, corporate clients and other pilots may choose not to land there if the air traffic control tower is closed.
San Francisco International Airport and other large airports could see furloughs for air traffic controllers, customs agents and TSA agents. This would mean longer lines and delayed takeoffs and arrivals.
Cuts to social services mean that in California, 8,200 children would lose Head Start early education services and more than 15,000 children will not be immunized.
The California Department of Public Health would lose $2 million in federal grants, which could mean 49,300 fewer HIV tests.
Meals on Wheels also faces cuts. In California, that means a potential loss of $5.4 million in funding for meals for seniors.
UCSF, which gets more money from the National Institutes of Health than any other public university in the country, would lose 264 grants -- a 25 percent cut.
All doctors and hospitals who serve Medicare patients face a 2 percent cut in reimbursements for services. This would exacerbate the doctor shortage already being felt by seniors. However, the Medicare payment cut is delayed until April 1 -- a month after the sequester goes into effect -- so public outcry could still spur lawmakers to pass legislation to avert it.
The sequester would not affect the salaries and benefits of uniformed military and veterans, but in California, 64,000 civilian defense workers could be furloughed one day a week.
In terms of military cuts, California would be affected more than any other state except Virginia. Army base operations in California would face $54 million in cuts, and Air Force operations would face $15 million in cuts.
California's National Parks
A 5 percent cut is planned to every park's budget, which would add up to a loss $7 million in federal funding to California's national parks, recreation areas and historic sites.
Scaled-back summer season: hiring freezes at many parks will mean fewer seasonal staff for the summer. Visitors could see reduced hours at park museums, closed campgrounds, ranger-led hikes cancelled and more.
Impact on local economies: out-of-town visitors spend $1.4 billion in California each year, according to estimates from the National Park Service. If access to some parks is reduced, "gateway" communities lose out on business.
Table: The Effect of the Sequester on California's National Parks
(All numbers are dollar values)