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California Braces For Deep Cuts From Federal Sequestration

Larry Blumberg, executive director of the San Diego Military Advisory Council, and Fred F. Hewett, founder of the San Diego Chapter of the Defense Industry Association, talk to KPBS about the impacts sequestration could have on San Diego's defense industry.


Larry Blumberg, Executive Director SDMAC, (San Diego Military Advisory Council)

Frank F. Hewett, IntelliSolutions, Inc., founder San Diego Chapter of the Defense Industry Association

Rick Gentry, president and CEO, San Diego Housing Commission


California is bracing for massive cuts to federal spending from so-called sequestration, including a $3.2-billion hit to the region's defense industry, unless Congress acts by March 1.

The federal government is scheduled to enact $85 billion in automatic cuts, and $1.2 trillion in reductions over 10 years, across the nation as part of a deal approved two years ago.

The majority of California's 64,000 Defense Department civilian workers would be affected by furloughs, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. They'd lose a day of work per week -- or 20 percent of their pay -- for up to 22 weeks, starting in late April, said Panetta.

California's K-12 education system would lose approximately $88 million, in addition to $63 million targeted toward children with disabilities; 9,600 college students would lose a portion of their federal aid. "In addition about 187,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 320 fewer schools would receive funding," according to a White House statement.

Environmental air and water protection efforts would be scaled back by $12.4 million. In addition, the state could lose another $1.9 million in grants for fish and wildlife protection.

Military leaders warned the cuts would have a swift and severe impact on military readiness, and national security would be put at risk if they are forced to make deep decreases in spending for personnel, training, and equipment modernization programs.

"If we do not have the resources to train and equip the force, our young men and women will pay the price, potentially with their lives," said Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff.

San Diego is home to the second largest concentration of military personnel and would be one of the hardest hit regions in the country. The White House warned Sunday that maintenance and repair of five ships in San Diego and aircraft depot maintenance in North Island could be canceled. Funding for the state's Air Force operations would be cut by about $15 million and Army base operations would be cut by about $54 million.

Visitors to California's national parks would encounter fewer rangers, find locked restrooms and visitors centers, and see trashcans emptied less often if 5 percent across-the-board cuts are enacted .

A National Park Service internal memo obtained by The Associated Press compiles a list of cuts in services in parks from Cape Cod to Yosemite.

KPBS' Alison St John, Patty Lane and Peggy Pico contributed to this story.


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