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Reps. Moran and Connolly: Sequestration Likely to Happen

What will it mean for the Northern Virginia economy?

Sequestration — $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts to defense and civilian programs over the next decade — will likely happen, and it will mean thousands of layoffs, program eliminations and near-certain economic devastation for Northern Virginia, said Virginia Congressmen Jim Moran (D-8th) and Gerry Connolly (D-11th) on Saturday at a town hall meeting in Mount Vernon.

"You need to be aware that this is probably going to happen," said Moran, who spoke at an annual meeting conducted by Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland. "It's a democracy and things will ultimately play themselves out, but things are not going well right now (in Congress)."

Congress averted the fiscal cliff crisis at the beginning of the year, and sequestration cuts were postponed until March 1. The Economic Policy Institute says that the cuts will result in 689,000 job losses across the country this year, and will slash GDP growth by 0.6 percent. In Virginia, the State House Appropriations Committee estimates that sequestration will cost more than $330 million in tax revenue, and 60 percent of job losses are expected to come from Northern Virginia. 

It is unlikely that Republicans and Democrats in Congress will reach a deal on a deficit reduction plan, said Moran. "This is something that should have been avoided. And it's not just this one-time sequester in March. It continues for an entire decade," he said. 

Connolly said that sequestration could put the economy back into a recession. "Unfortunately it probably is going to happen, at least for a while. So, we all have front-row seats living here, and by all means let your voices be heard," he said. "Here we are, doing well in Fairfax County — a 4.1 percent unemployment rate. We don't want to kill that with a mindless approach."

The automatic reductions are estimated to slash state and local education funding by 36 percent, funding in housing and community development by 28 percent, taking 18 percent from spending on health and the environment and reducing public safety and disaster response investment by 5 percent, according to a county memo handed out at a South County Federation meeting in January. 

"The biggest threat now facing Fairfax County is sequestration," said the memo.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) recently told the Washington Post that sequestration will mean 130,000-200,000 job losses for the Commonwealth. “It damages our national security and is disproportionately unfair to the state of Virginia,” he said. “I will continue to lobby against it.”  

Virginia Del. Scott Surovell (D-44th) said that the Governor needs to press Congress to act. "The most important factor is the Governor's involvement and how hard he's willing to push," said Surovell to Patch. "In the short term, the main tools we have at the state level are extending and improving unemployment benefits. We can also create at least $500 million in jobs by retrofitting our schools and other public facilities with solar and energy efficiency projects funded by the revenue from the revenue saved by lower energy costs.

"In the long-term, the best way to stimulate the Northern Virginia economy and make us less dependent on government-sector jobs is to extend Metro, invest in transportation infrastructure and invest in our people through education so that the private-sector economy has the foundation for expansion," said Surovell. 

Sharon Bulova, chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, told Patch that the effects of sequestration are already being felt.

"Just the threat of sequestration is causing uncertainty among the corporate community in Fairfax County, and already businesses are choosing not to fill vacant space, not to make a move that otherwise they may have made as we are coming out of the recession years," said Bulova. "We're already seeing the effect of that on our revenues. What Fairfax County has done to protect ourselves is to put money aside when we adopted our carryover budget at the end of the year. We saved about $8 million as a hedge against what we think are going to be potential reductions and negative effects on the County."

The uncertainty makes budgeting difficult, said Fairfax County Executive Ed Long.

"Sequestration, before it gets addressed in March (by Congress), will impact the county and it will impact the state, probably after our budget is put together, and our ability to deal with things once the budget is put together is very challenging," said Long. "We will be impacted. We will have job loss in this area. So, people will not be going out and spending as much as they would like to. It will have an impact on everything we do in the county, but we don't know what that is."

Bulova said she's glad she's not serving in Congress. "Local government is, in my mind, at a much more effective level where you're able to roll up your sleeves and make some tough decisions," she said. "Congress is a larger, more difficult body and it's not an easy place for our representatives to be serving. But I know they're doing their best to bring this to a conclusion. I would hope so."      

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Ray L. February 04, 2013 at 03:39 AM
All this, just because the Democrats refuse to prepare a budget. Shame on them.
FFX County Resident February 04, 2013 at 02:12 PM
I really really really wish laws were enforced that already exist, like having a balanced budget. If you were elected to a position of congress that you pick up the pieces that were left, and work with them. Moran, Wolfe, Connelly, Cantor, Hurt, and Scott need to bring to the table a "sequestor of jury" tactics. No one is going home for vacation, proms, weddings, or whatever until a budget is passed. I don't mean kick someone elses' can down the road like CRAs, I mean, pick the freakin can up, realize that it's empty and go to bat for all Virginians. You guys would get my vote everytime if you voted for the people and worked for the people. Instead, you let your personal agendas and other party members influence you from your head to your toe. And I'm sure there are kickbacks from lobbiests. Stick up for us. Under your watch, sesquestor of DoD programs should not happen. You should be defending Virginia's largest industry of jobs producing program. What the heck is wrong with you? You flush aside DoD programs, you flush away jobs, tax revenues. If those folks become unemployed, you increase gov't dependecy on welfare or other unemployment benefits, and mortgages will start to default and so on. It is called a death spiral. Gentlemen, stop bickering with the he said/ she said crap and work for us. If this sesquestration takes effect and you let it, I will find another candidate who will support and fight for us.
FFX County Resident February 04, 2013 at 02:21 PM
Moran, Wolfe, Connelly, Cantor, Hurt, and Scott; Each of you need to submit a proposal for the budget and non-DoD Sesesquation. It doesn't matter what side it comes from at this point. I'm about to lose my job and your lack of leadership for Virginian's are to blame. My DoD contractors put in more dedication and time than the front office secretary (admin assistant who is a gov't employee) just to make his ends meet. It's not fair, and you are to blame. Hire less contractors was put out by DoD to assist in effeciencies. I say horse phuey. I say don't push me another non-working gov't employee who eats up my medical benefits by being out sick all the time from her precious smoking breaks. I won't get into the firing process and the numerous attempts. Gentlemen, Virginian's elected you to do a job, to fix this gov't on our behalf. I think you really ought to start earning your pay.
Richie Rich February 04, 2013 at 05:00 PM
I thought we had a spending problem. Now that spending is getting cut, everybody is screaming about jobs. Remember, Government does not generate wealth, it only redistributes it from others. If you are gong to lose your job from a cut in government spending then you should become a real man, get off the dole and get a job in the private sector.
FFX County Resident February 05, 2013 at 08:54 PM
Richie....I have a job. I've bust my "a** defending your "private sector" freedoms for almost 20+ years now! But, DoD is "considering" elimnating some of us to cut down on spending, and hiring five executive administrators to replace my contractor. How does that add up to savings? Hiring a private sector individual or contractor is alot less costly espacially when you add all the gov't benefits into the equation. Someone kicks a can, and they just kick it again, instead of recycling it. Unlike those whimps and staffers on the hill who can't make a decision of pouring coffee or adding water to the pot first. The Taxpayers Are Always expendable! Sounds like great congressional leadership.
Richie Rich February 07, 2013 at 04:12 PM
I was being sarcastic..... my point is for four years Republicans and Tea Party folks have been crying about spending and as soon as spending gets cut they are crying about job loses. There are two ways to balance the budget. Cut spending or raise revenue. Do one or the other or stop bitching!

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