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From coast to coast, states brace for sequester shock

In Huntsville, Alabama, Phoenix Services, an Army contractor, provides jobs to 300 physically or mentally disabled workers who produce harnesses for parachutes and burial flags for military funerals. All of them face layoffs because of the sequester. NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski reports from Huntsville.

Sure, it’s got a weird name. But the effects of sequestration may hit all too close to home for some Americans if lawmakers allow the cuts to take full effect later this month. One day after President Barack Obama signed an order to cut spending by $1.2 trillion over a decade, NBC News takes a look at how people may feel the pinch from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles. 

New York
Young children in New York City’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods might be among those affected by sequestration as Head Start programs face a 5 percent cut, NBC New York reported. In the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, the SCO Morris Koppelman Center is the only Head Start program in an area where almost half of neighborhood children live below the poverty line. “It’s extremely difficult and very frightening to think what will happen to the families and the children in the community,” Shana Hewitt, program director at the Morris Koppelman Center, told NBC New York.


Lone Star state schools, air travel, military operations and more stand to be trimmed, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported. The Texas state budget may lose $334 million in cuts to public education programs, and more than 285 schools stand to lose federal funding starting July 1 if lawmakers don’t come to an agreement. Special education, English language classes, nutrition programs, early child intervention and family protective services could also be hit. The Texas Education Agency alone may lose grants totaling as much as $167.7 million, according to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.

The military may see as much $100 million for operations vanish in Maryland, NBC Washington reported. Military facilities in Maryland may lose $95 million in base operations, and furloughs of civilian employees could result in a $359 million payroll reduction, according to a letter the Pentagon sent Gov. Martin O'Malley, the station reported. Outside defense spending, the Washington, D.C. Metro transit system could see a loss of $22 million between lost grants and decreased ridership.

Parents in California also worried about the potential impact on their young children as Head Start programs were trimmed, NBC Los Angeles reported. “We can’t pay for it,” Ismael Lopez said of other preschool options for his son. “Everything is so expensive.” Cuts to funding for schools, the military and disability services could total $500 million, and primary and secondary education may see a $87.6 million cut, according to NBC Los Angeles.

The sequester likely won't be the doomsday scenario that some had predicted, as the cuts will kick in gradually, but there is public frustration at Washington for not doing more, sooner. NBC's Kristen Welker reports.

The budget cuts include slashing funds for the Federal Aviation Administration by about $600 million nationwide, NBC Connecticut reported. How much any resulting delays may cost airline passengers in travel time at the state’s airports won’t be known until the cuts settle in, said aviation consultant Ed Garlick. "We won't really know until we get into it. It could be minutes. It could be hours," he told NBC Connecticut.

Florida residents spoke out about their fears that the spending cuts may cast a cloud over the Sunshine State. “I think people are going to be affected locally, and I think people need to be angrier than they are at the fact that Congress is not working together to serve us as people,” attorney Lynn Dannheisser told NBC Miami. Community hospitals and institutions of higher learning, including the University of Miami and Florida International University, may stand to see some of their funding dry up as a result of the cuts.

Scott Air Force Base, a major employer in Illinois, could be hit hard by the cuts, according to NBC Chicago. Head Start programs in Illinois would likely be hit, too. "It's not just cold-hearted. It's stupid economic policy," said Diana Rauner, president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, a nonprofit that serves 1,300 Chicago children. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago is considering closing its doors for one work day a week if the cuts take full effect, said court clerk Tom Bruton.

The program Meals on Wheels is preparing for a worst-case scenario, according to NBC Philadelphia. Cuts to the program could mean waiting lists or stopping deliveries to home-bound clients altogether. "They wouldn't be able to stay at home and then they would probably end up in a nursing homes, which would cost the government a fortune," Bill Decamp of Lehigh Valley told NBC Philadelphia.

In a Meet the Press exclusive interview, Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, weighs in on the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester and what's next.