Federal spending cuts could mean thousands of layoffs for state





Sequestration, huge automatic spending cuts that will go into effect next month unless the federal government comes up with a deficit package, could translate to thousands of layoffs in Washington state.


The $1.2 trillion in spending cuts are set to go into effect March 1, with $85 billion in cuts each year through 2021.


Half the money would come from the Pentagon and the other half from non-defense programs.


Locally, federal spending amounts to between a fifth and a quarter of the state budget, according to published reports quoting the state's Office of Financial Management.


The exact size of the cuts is estimated to be from 5 to 12 percent for the programs affected.


Some of the programs that receive federal money are special education and early learning.


There are also certain social services that federal dollars support, including foster care.


Replacing any of that money would be difficult for lawmakers. 


The state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council predicted a $900 million shortfall in the state budget over the next biennium.


In addition, the cuts could cost the state more than 40,000 jobs and nearly $3.5 billion.


About 2 percent of Washington's economy comes from military spending.


The Pentagon is considering one day a week furloughs for civilian employees of the military lasting 22 weeks.


For the Army alone in Washington state, that could affect more than 11,000 jobs and cost nearly half a billion dollars.


Almost every federal agency would be affected by sequestration, but Social Security, veterans’ benefits and student loans would be exempt.