Preview: What cuts Missouri and Illinois will face if deadline passes

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by KMOV.com Staff

KMOV.com

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 26 at 5:00 AM

(KMOV.com) -- The country just days away from the deadline to stop massive automatic budget cuts. The President is warning of the consequences, while Republicans say he’s making the cuts sound scarier than they actually are.

The sticking point in the debate is taxes. Republicans say raising them is off the table.

“It would be an absolute mistake to raise taxes and put them into the government economy and take them out of the American economy,” said Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

But President Obama says something must be done or the population will suffer.  

“Companies are preparing layoff notices,” he said. “Families are preparing to cut back on expenses. And the longer these cuts take place, the bigger the impact they’ll become.”

The white house laid out how the cuts will impact each state. News 4 wanted to take a closer  look at what the cuts will mean for both Missouri and Illinois.

Millions of dollars will be cut from education, public health, and programs to stop violence against women.

One area that’s definitely going to feel the cuts would be the Head Start program which provides childcare for the working poor.

Currently, it serves 4,500 in the St. Louis area and one official with the program says it could easily serve perhaps twice that many.

The White House says it estimates nearly 4,000 low-income children in Missouri and Illinois would lose access to Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

The YWCA oversees Head Start.

Stacy Johnson says the government does need to do some belt tightening, but the majority of the families the program serves are at or below poverty.

“So to say that we want you to work so that we don’t have to give you what they call a hand-out but at the same time you’re making it harder for those families that are working because they can’t afford $200-$300 hundred dollars a week in childcare,” she said.

The cuts will be wide-ranging including: Illinois will lose $6.4 million and missouri $3.7 in environmental funding for clean water and air protection.

The two states combined would lose $750,000 for programs to promote prosecution and prevent crime. 

Money would be cut that provides childhood vaccines to more than 7,500 children in Missouri and Illinois.

More than a $1 million would be cut from programs that provide meals for seniors in both states.

Saint Louis University economist Jack Strauss says while the economy isn’t on its deathbed it’s also not quite ready for these massive cuts.

“You don’t start tightening your belt and go on a diet after you’ve been in an accident, the time for austerity is not now,” he said.  

He says many economists believe the country will be in a much stronger position in 2014 or 2015 and that’s when the major cuts should kick in.

“This time we’re not going to go over a cliff,” Strauss said. “But we’re going to go down a very bumpy road and eventually hit a not very soft bottom.”

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