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For Immediate Release: 2/19/2013
Leggett, Baker, Ulman Urge Congress to Act to Avoid Sequester; Effects Could be Devastating to Local Governments
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, Prince Georges County Executive Rushern Baker and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman today urged Congress to find a way to avoid the sequester that will go into effect on March 1 unless action is taken. The sequester would have a damaging impact on local economies in Maryland, severely impacting federal employees, federal contractors, education, defense, aerospace and air transportation, law enforcement, medical research, social services, health and safety and many other aspects that affect the day-to-day life of Maryland residents.

“The impact on Montgomery County from the sequestration could undo the economic gains we’ve made as the County and our country have begun to emerge from the financial crisis,” said Leggett. “Montgomery County has 47,000 federal workers and thousands of businesses that contract with the federal government – all of whom will be directly affected if Congress does not act. The loss to our County of millions of dollars in revenue could plunge us back into a severe slowdown causing budget shortfalls and a stagnant economy. We can’t let that happen.”

Maryland has 130,000 federal workers whose salaries could be cut 20 percent due to furloughs. In fiscal year 2012, Montgomery County alone had $5 billion in prime federal contracting awards that would be adversely affected.

President Obama urged members of Congress to “pass...balanced cuts and close more tax loopholes until they can find a way to replace the sequester with a smarter, longer-term solution.” Otherwise, across-the-board federal budget cuts of $85 billion through the end of September will go into effect. The cuts will be evenly split between defense and domestic discretionary spending and could cause the loss of millions of jobs nationwide.

“I urge Congress to find common ground and avoid sequestration. The nation is just beginning to get back on its feet after the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression,” said Prince Georges County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “Sequestration would feel like a cold to most of the nation, but to Prince Georges County and the rest of the Washington metropolitan area, it would feel like a bad case of pneumonia. One-quarter of the federal workforce in this region are residents of Prince George's County, so many of them are eagerly awaiting a positive conclusion to this situation. As Congress deliberates this important issue, I encourage them to put the people first and find a resolution that keeps the country moving in the right direction.”

“We need our leaders in Washington to work together on a plan that averts the worst impacts of sequestration,” said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. “We are just coming out of the recession and moving in the right direction, and now we need an agreement to make sure the momentum will continue and grow.”

Maryland has 852,000 students who would be impacted by the sequestration. Maryland receives $196 million from the federal government to provide support for low-income students (Title I Grants), $200 million to support the needs of special education students and $90 million for Head Start in Maryland. The sequestration could result in a five percent cut in this funding that would affect 11,728 low-income students at 30 schools across the state; lead to 198 layoffs of school employees, including teachers; layoff 100 special education teachers; cut services for 550 Head Start kids; and cause 164 Head Start teachers to lose their jobs.

Stephen Fuller, director, George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis, predicts that sequestration could result in the loss of more than two million defense and non-defense jobs nationally, could increase the unemployment rate by 1.5 percent, and reduce the nation’s projected gross domestic product growth by two-thirds. The Washington region would be especially hard hit by these losses.

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Release ID: 13-041
Media Contact: Esther Bowring 240-777-6507

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