White House outlines impact of budget cuts in Va.

Automatic US budget cuts would go deeper than the military in Virginia, to child care, elders

Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Virginia's huge military presence in the Washington suburbs and Hampton Roads would suffer the biggest blows if automatic federal budget cuts take effect, but education, child care such as Head Start, environmental programs and nutrition for elders would all feel the pinch.

The Obama administration's accounting of the impact of the cuts in Virginia projects approximately 90,000 civilian Department of Defense employees being furloughed, representing a payroll of $648.4 million. Army base operation funding would be cut by $146 million, the Navy would cancel maintenance on 11 ships in Norfolk and defer projects elsewhere in the state, and the Air Force would have to cut its spending by about $8 million.

Those military cuts would be compounded by a reduction in federal impact aid to school divisions, primarily in northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. School divisions apply directly to the U.S. Department of Education to replace lost revenue from families affiliated with the military that live or work on federal property and are not subject to the same local taxes.

Based on 2011 aid numbers, Virginia Beach schools received $9.3 million, York County $8.1 million, Norfolk $6.4 million, Prince George County $4 million, Fairfax County $3.9 million, the city of Chesapeake $3.3 million, the city of Newport News $3.9 million, Stafford County $1.25 million, Prince William County $1.1 million.

While most federal aid to schools has already been received, that is not the case with impact aid. In York County, where 42 percent of the division's 12,300 students are federally connected, the reduction of impact aid under so-called sequestration could total $557,000, the division's chief financial officer said Monday.

"That's a significant loss," Dennis Jarrett said. "That would translate into the equivalent of 11 teaching positions."

The loss of impact aid would be felt in York County schools until next school year, he said. The projected losses for York County do not reflect any military-related furloughs.

Besides military cuts, Virginia would lose nearly $14 million for teachers and aides who help children with disabilities, eliminate approximately 1,000 children from Head Start and Early Start Services, and 2,120 few low-income students would lost aid to help them finance the cost of college.

Those cuts, like many in education, wouldn't be felt until the next academic year because federal education dollars are provided at the start of the school year.

Various Virginia state agencies that were asked could not provide specifics on the impact of the cuts.

Other Virginia cuts, as outlined by the White House, would include:

— $3 million for clean water and air quality, and $826,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.

— $241,000 for child vaccinations such as measles, mumps and rubella.

— $746,000 to upgrade the state's response to public health threats such as infectious diseases and natural disasters.

— $1.2 million to provide meals for seniors.

— $172,000 for services to victims of domestic violence.

President Barack Obama appealed Monday to Congress to head off the end-of-the-week cuts. While Obama acknowledged that the impact of the $85 billion in cuts may not be felt immediately, he also said the uncertainty threatens to stall an economic recovery.

Despite the Friday deadline, there are no serious negotiations happening between the White House and Congress.

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Steve Szkotak can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sszkotakap

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