The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 27, 2013

Federal cuts could affect education, transportation, food prices

The federal budget cuts known as sequestration, scheduled to start Friday, may shut down some food processing operations nationwide, including those in Carthage and Noel, resulting in higher food prices.

Federal programs at schools, including special education and Title I, benefiting children from low-income families, could be cut.

The cuts could result in fewer programs and services at George Washington Carver National Monument and Fort Scott National Historic Site.

They would affect operations at the Joplin Regional Airport, closing the air traffic control tower and resulting the layoffs of its six air traffic controllers, said Steve Stockam, airport manager.

Federal programs in schools would be reduced.

For Missouri, the federal cuts could total $95 million, according to The Associated Press.

The White House this week released information sheets describing impacts in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.

The list includes cuts of nearly $12 million to Missouri schools, nearly $5 million to Oklahoma schools and $5.5 million to Kansas schools.

According to the White House information, programs that provide meals to seniors would be cut by $419,000 in Missouri, $209,000 in Kansas and $298,000 in Oklahoma.

POLITICIANS

Some in Congress say the outcome won’t be so bad. Among them is U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., who spoke at a Republican House leadership gathering Tuesday.

“These cuts amount to about 2 1/2 percent of the federal budget,” Jenkins said. “Find me an American family, a hardworking taxpayer, that hasn’t already cut over 2 percent out of their budgets at home without cutting essential things.”

She said the government will collect and spend more money this year than it did last year even with the sequester.

“The president needs to come back from his campaign-style tour, stop scaring people and work with us to address the issue of the debt and the deficits, get the economy moving and people back to work,” Jenkins said.

U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo., hit many of the same points in a statement emailed to the Globe.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., speaking at a gathering of Republican Senate leaders on Tuesday, didn’t downplay the cuts, but he said they were unnecessary.

“The option now for the president is: Do you want to work for a different way for these same savings to be achieved?” Blunt said. “That’s very doable. There’s a lot of willingness to look for ways to have targeted spending cuts instead of across-the-board spending cuts.”

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in a phone interview, said she doesn’t think the cuts can be avoided.

“In the next moth, we have to fund the government for the rest of the year,” McCaskill said. “We have the ability to pass an appropriation bill that makes these cuts in a more measured way over a longer period. Before these cuts have a really negative impact on Missouri, we can have a way of targeting them in a less negative way.”

She said that when the immediate crisis has passed, Congress also should consider closing tax loopholes to produce additional revenue.

“We all need to take responsibility for this, and we all need to be involved in fixing it,” McCaskill said. “People are sick to death of the blame game. If we don’t work together and fix this, it’s going to hurt our economy. People are going to feel it.”

McCaskill said the sequestration was considered by both parties to be so extreme that it would bring everyone to the table for compromise, but that idea was mistaken.

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