COLUMBUS --The White House issued warnings of cuts to Ohio schools, work-study programs, child care and other federally funded programs if mandated spending reductions take effect at the end of the week.
In a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon, senior officials from President Barack Obama's administration outlined "devastating" impacts to states from $85 billion in automatic spending cuts over the next seven months.
"These cuts would have macro-economic consequences nationwide," said Jason Furman, deputy director of the president's National Economic Council. "Hundreds of thousands of jobs would be lost... The bulk of the job loss would be private jobs that are lost because of the reduced economic activity associated with the sequester and the impact that would have on the entire economy."
But state officials responded that federal spending is unsustainable and would prove "disastrous" if left unchecked. And the head of the Office of Budget and Management said he didn't expect any major disruptions to state services as a result of the potential federal action.
"Sequestration may not be the most desirable means of addressing this issue, but clearly the federal government must follow Ohio's example and put its fiscal house in order," Tim Keen, Gov. John Kasich's budget director, said in a released statement.
Friday is the deadline for Obama and Democrats and congressional Republicans to reach a compromise with Republicans on budget issues to avoid a series of automatic spending cuts triggered as part of law changes that were part of federal budget legislation.
Furman said federal officials did not mean for the cuts to occur -- rather, the language was designed to force Republicans and Democrats to compromise on a budget deal.
Among potential cut that would affect Ohio, the White House projected:
A reduction of about $25 million for primary and secondary education, "putting around 350 teacher and aide jobs at risk."
Less aid for work-study programs, affecting 3,320 low-income residents attending college and 1,450 involved in government-backed jobs that assist with college costs.
A loss of more than $6.8 million in funding for clean air and water programs, plus close to a million in grants for fish and wildlife protection.
The forced furloughing of 26,000 defense employees in the state, reducing gross pay by more than $161 million.
Cuts to child-care assistance for up to 800 needy youngsters and cuts to immunization assistance affecting 5,000-plus children.
Keen said Ohio's Office of Budget and Management is closely monitoring the potential federal cuts.
"Those provisions -- along with various alternative measures being discussed in Washington, up to the present moment -- present a great many uncertainties and changing scenarios," he said. "This makes it difficult to project the nature or impact of specific cuts."
Keen added, "Under the present plan, Medicaid and most transportation programs, two of the largest sources of federal funding in Ohio's budget, are exempt from sequestration. OBM is prepared to work with all state agencies to manage any other impacts the sequestration might create. However, it is our general sense that we will not see significant disruptions to state operations or federally funded programs."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.