White House: Spending cuts to have broad negative impact on Maine jobs and programs

President Barack Obama offers a toast during a event with the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., Sunday, February 24, 2013.
Olivier Douliery | Abaca Press
President Barack Obama offers a toast during a event with the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., Sunday, February 24, 2013.
Posted Feb. 24, 2013, at 8:21 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 25, 2013, at 5:58 a.m.

The White House released more doom-filled predictions Sunday of how across-the-board budget cuts will affect every state unless Congress acts to postpone the spending reductions, known as the sequester.

Among the examples of the impact in Maine are a loss of $2.7 million in funding for primary and secondary education with 40 teaching jobs at risk, a loss of $1.4 million in environmental funding to ensure clean air and water, and the furlough of approximately 7,000 Department of Defense employees.

“There is no question that we need to cut the deficit, but the President believes it should be done in a balanced way that protects investments that the middle class relies on,” a news release from the office of the press secretary said. “Unfortunately, many Republicans in Congress refuse to ask the wealthy to pay a little more by closing tax loopholes so that we can protect investments that are helping grow our economy and keep our country safe.”

Republicans have fought back against the White House’s push to pressure Congress to postpone the cuts by seeking to portray President Barack Obama as the mastermind of the spending reductions, and the person responsible for any damage those reductions cause to the military and the economy.

The national $1.2 trillion cuts to defense and domestic spending are the result of a 2011 deal between Obama and Congress that was designed to compel lawmakers to slow down federal borrowing, according to The Washington Post. But with no deal on the horizon, the cuts are due to take effect Friday, March 1.

In Maine, the majority of the Department of Defense cuts are likely to come from the U.S. Navy, which employs 5,500 civilian employees — most of whom work at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery. Other civilian employees of the Maine Army and Air National Guard and the U.S. Army would be affected, too.

“It will definitely have a negative effect on military readiness in Maine and certainly nationwide,” Peter Rogers, spokesman for the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, told the Bangor Daily News last week.

The White House’s list also includes:

• Loss of about 60 work-study jobs for Maine students.

• Elimination of Head Start and Early Head Start services for approximately 300 children in Maine.

• Loss of about $67,000 in Justice Assistance Grants to support law enforcement, prosecution and crime prevention.

• Loss of about $167,000 in funding for job search assistance, referral and placement.

• Reduced funding for vaccines, which would affect about 740 children.

• Loss of nearly $200,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors.

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