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How Will Sequestration Cuts Impact Mississippi

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 28 Feb 2013 07:04pm | comments

The $85 billion dollar federal budget cuts scheduled to take effect today could have effects in Mississippi. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports how a number of public programs from Head Start to Agriculture could take a punch.

Mississippi receives more than $180 million dollars annually to operate Head Start programs which provide childcare for low income families around the state. But if congressional leaders don't come up with a plan to stop automatic budget cuts Dr. Marvin Hogan, Executive Director of Friends of Children, the state’s second  largest Head Start Provider, says it could have a trickledown effect on Mississippi's economy.

"For every dollar that's invested in Head Start the economy gets seven dollars in return. If you're talking about reducing $14 million dollars from Mississippi's Head Start budget just think about 7 times that 14. And it does provide service not only to the children, it’s a source of employment and our agency, one agency is 987 employees."

Hogan says if the budget cuts are enacted it could force more than twenty two hundred children off the Head Start rolls. He says that could create an even bigger dilemma for families who rely on their services. 

"Cause 84 percent of the families that we serve are single females heads of households. That are employed and have to find places for their children and not be able to afford that. That is our greatest concern right now."

In addition to Head Start, budget sequestration could mean sharp cuts to a number of other programs in Mississippi  including education, public health and agriculture.  Andy Prosser is a spokesman for the State Department of Agriculture.

" Of course you know anytime you deal with federal programs whether its plant or disease management which is a lot of what we have to do. We've looked at how that is gonna effect our budget and our operating procedures since that's a lot of the work that we do for the federal government. So ah one thing that we're really looking at right now is how we're gonna space that money that we have out now until they can get most of what they have in Washington situated."

Mississippi's military readiness could also fall victim to the expected budget cuts. It is estimated that nine thousand civilian  defense employees in Mississippi would be furloughed reducing their gross pay by about $50 million dollars.  Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.

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