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Politics & Government

Federal Spending Cuts Would Have Broad Impact in Region

A White House-issued report on how automatic spending cuts between March and September will affect individual states shows Pennsylvania losing about $240 million.  The biggest losses would come in education and defense.  

About 26,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing their gross pay by more than $150 million.  Funding for primary and secondary education would decrease by more than $26 million; and help for children with disabilities would be affected, as would Head Start and Early Head Start.

Allegheny County Health Department Acting Director Ronald Voorhees said not all the information on regional effects is available.  "If we basically estimate that Allegheny County itself is about a tenth of the population, and the surrounding counties are another tenth of the population of the state, it gives us an idea of what the impacts could be.  So there would be significant cuts both to public health programs and to just general public health across the board."

There would be a reduction in available vaccines; cuts to emergency preparedness; fewer resources for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse; and fewer HIV tests, according to Voorhees.  He said about 100 victims would not get necessary services because of cuts to the violence against women program, which can have long-term effects on families.

 Just in Allegheny County, Voorhees said more than 230 children would not get to participate in Head Start, which is important for the school experience, better job prospects, and to reduce the likelihood of future substance abuse.

The state would lose $849,000 to provide meals to seniors and $5.7 million to ensure clean air and water.  Basically, according to Voorhees, what affects the economy usually also affects public health, so he said he hopes the cuts will not occur.