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The Sequester: Shenanigans or Serious Business?

Few people in metro Atlanta know what to expect if the sequester happens. Will you or somebody you know be affected if federal budget cuts kick in?

The Sequester: Shenanigans or Serious Business?

If the federal government imposes the $85 billion "sequester" cuts, which could go into effect Friday night, the changes may not be immediately apparent for many metro Atlanta residents.

Many of the departments and agencies likely to be affected, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are themselves unsure how they would be affected.

"It is not clear how individual field offices will be impacted by the implementation of the sequester," said Stephen Emmett, spokesman for the FBI's Atlanta field office.

Politico reports that the Atlanta-based disease detectives at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could see their funding cut, hampering their ability to mobilize if there is a public health crisis.

CDC Director Tom Frieden told POLITICO:

“It would impact every CDC program. It would make us less able to find and stop outbreaks.”

Federal funds flow to state health departments, but Georgia health officials said it's too soon to say how services to the public would be affected.

"If sequestration does occur, which and to what extent programs will be impacted is not clear," said Georgia Department of Public Health spokeswoman Nancy Nydam.

Atlanta's Universities could lose funds to help low-income students. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators  has offered estimates on how much could be at stake in lost opportunity grants and work-study funds for students:

  • Emory: 151,348
  • Georgia Tech: $121,523
  • Georgia State: $74,228
  • Ogelthorpe: $5,871
  • Spelman, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta University would not face any loss of funds, according to the report.

And nearby, hundreds of workers at the Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta could face layoffs if the cuts kick in, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

Most federal parks in metro Atlanta are expected to remain open. A White House report released on Sunday said "many of the 398 national parks across the country would be partially or fully closed" but that isn't expected to happen immediately.

Rudy Evenson, spokesman for the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, said sequestration would affect summer hires for the park service.

What's your take on the sequester? Do you or somebody you know work at a federal agency or contractor? Are you making plans for a possible pay cut? Or do you think this is all a lot of political grand-standing?

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