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How Would the Sequester (Federal Budget Cuts) Affect Washington State?

How would sequester, or federal budget cuts, affect Washington state?
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The White House has released a state-by-state report showing how legally-mandated budget cuts — a.k.a the “sequester” — would affect citizens.

Aside from civilian Department of Defense workers and a nutrition program for senior citizens, the bulk of the cuts would not directly impact the day-to-day lives of most average-income Washingtonians. The following programs would be affected:


  • $11.6 million for public education, affecting about 160 teachers and teachers aides at about 50 schools.
  • The Education for Children with Disabilities Program would lose about $11.2 million, affecting approximately 140 teachers and aides.
  • Some 180 work study student jobs would be eliminated.
  • About 440 work study jobs for low-income family students would be eliminated at the college level.
  • Some 1,000 children in the Head Start Program would be affected by cutbacks.


  • The state would lose about $4.2 million in funding that is supposed to be used to provide clean water and prevent environmental protection; about $942,000 of that is grants for fish and wildlife protection. How much of that funding actually gets used to clean up or protect environmental areas was not divulged.


  • Around 29,000 civilian Department of Defense workers would be furloughed, but not laid off. The funding cuts would remove $124 million from Army base operations around the state, $3 million from McCord and Fairchild AFB operations.


  • $271,000 in what are called Justice Assistance Grants would be lost, the money goes for programs that help with everything from corrections to law enforcement, crime victim and witness programs, and prevention programs.


  • The White House claims the cuts would prevent around 2,800 children (low-income) from receiving vaccinations. Most of these are on public assistance or illegals who receive medical care.
  • The Washington State Department of Health would lose about $174,000 that goes towards its HIV Testing Program.
  • The Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors would lose about $1.5 million.

The sequester was put off from Jan. 1. These are automatic, legally-mandated budget cuts that are part of repeated efforts to curb federal spending and try to balance the budget. They were not part of the Obama administration’s multi-billion-dollar stimulus package.

While sounding large, these cuts will have minimal impact. For example, the 620 work-study jobs listed are a very small percentage of the thousands of work-study programs utilized at state schools across Washington. The sequester debate will likely be resolved by Friday.


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