by Jim Nintzel
Southern Arizona Congressman Ron Barber called for an alternative to the sequester today on the House floor:
Mister Speaker, we now are less than 48 hours from sweeping and irresponsible across-the-board budget cuts that will go into effect on Friday.
These cuts will weaken our military, harm our border security, undermine our economic recovery and hurt Southern Arizona families.
We must work together. And we can, I am confident, craft a rational, bipartisan solution to reduce the debt so these cuts can be avoided.
Last week, I stood with officials from the University of Arizona, the city of Tucson, law enforcement, Border Patrol agents, civilian employees of the air base and the garrison at Fort Huachuca and local health care groups and community agencies to demand that we take action on sequestration.
The critical services that these groups and individuals and countless others provide to Arizonans will be cut because Congress has not come together with a common-sense solution.
In my district, these cuts mean longer wait times at the border ports of entry and less security between them. This is absolutely unacceptable.
Sequestration hurts the ability of returning veterans to find a job. This is also unacceptable.
And as I said before, I am willing to work here with all my colleagues to find a middle ground.
We owe our communities a budget — one that balances new revenues, eliminates duplication and eliminates ineffective programs and allows vital services to continue.
We should not recess tomorrow. We should stay here and do our job.
Thank you Mister Speaker.
The White House has released a list of impacts to Arizona. A few highlights:
Teachers and schools
Arizona will lose approximately $17.7 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 240 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 19,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 70 fewer schools would receive funding. In addition, Arizona will lose approximately $10 million in funds for about 120 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.
Arizona will lose approximately $611,000 in funds to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. In addition, Arizona will lose about $1.9 million in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 4,500 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And the Arizona State Department of Health Services will lose about $186,000 resulting in around 4,600 fewer HIV tests.
In Arizona, approximately 10,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $52.5 million in total. Army: Base operation funding would be cut by about $43 million in Arizona. Air Force: Funding for Air Force operations in Arizona would be cut by about $6 million