Lawmakers have discussed all kinds of program cuts and jobs cuts that could potentially occur if there is a sequester. But, when would these cuts actually start happening? How would they affect your family here in the Triad?
In a conference call Tuesday morning, Senator Kay Hagan said, "When a deadline hits, we do tend, in many cases, to take action. Personally, that's not my way to govern. I think we need to have a much longer term approach."
The Senator also added, "I pledge to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stop these cuts, and instead, hopefully enact a balanced, responsible, debt reduction plan. We owe it to our men and women in uniform and we owe it to the people of North Carolina."
When would the effects of Sequestration be felt? Senator Hagan said some people are already feeling the effects. "The furlough notices are going out, I believe, as we speak. That's to about 22,000 civilians in North Carolina about the paycuts and how they would be affected. I've had small businesses that have had contracts with the Department of Defense that have told me they have already been told their contract is not up for renewal and they are looking at laying people off right now," Senator Hagan added.
Experts WFMY News 2 interviewed Tuesday said the effects of not reaching a deal won't be immediate.
However, if the cuts go through, Guilford County Schools could lose more than $3 million dollars and need to find a way to cut more than forty jobs. This would not happen until the summer.
Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, Charlotte area school districts and even the Department of Instruction all said they still need to work out all the details.
You may have also heard Head Start services will end for 1500 children in our state. DHHS says they just don't know if or when that would happen.
Elon Political Science Professor Kenneth Fernandez said, "Absolutely, the government can shutdown. But, generally, in that game of chicken, someone blinks and someone negotiates some type of bargain. It may not be a grand bargain, but it will be a temporary band-aid approach."
Jason Husser, also a Political Science Professor at Elon, added, "There's actually not very clear plans about what effects this will have. The estimates the White House put out are rough estimates. In some ways, they underestimate negative effects. In other ways, they overestimate negative effects."
Senator Hagan says North Carolina has the third largest military footprint in the country. If the sequester moves forward, about 22,000 civilian department of defense workers would get furloughed. Plus, the state could lose millions of dollars in funding from lost maintenance contracts with the Navy.
"This is scary. But, it's probably not scary enough in many ways. The design was to scare members of Congress and force them to the table. But, because society is so polarized and members of Congress are so divided, what should be quite a threat is actually not that big of a threat," Husser added. "Because Congress is so divided, it means members really lose a lot by working with the other side and making compromises on these issues like taxes or spending cuts."
Since it seems like both sides have their own ideas on the impact the sequester will have, we also asked Professor Husser who can we trust in Washington, D.C.? He said, "Politicians are politicians. There's not a set of politicians that are more trustworthy than others. The best way to figure out what's really going on is you have to listen to both sides and try to pick out what's really the story."
He suggested the Brookings Institution and the Congressional Budget Office as balanced, credible sources. He also says to read various articles from different media outlets.