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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Who is hurt the most by sequestration?

Friday, May 3, 2013

The effects of the federal sequestration process continue to trickle down, and Franklin County is not immune to cutbacks. Unfortunately, the people hurt most locally are those who may need help the most.

Support To End Poverty (STEP) Inc. is facing an overall 5-percent cut, director Jon Morris has said. That means programs like Early Head Start, senior meals, homeless programs and the weatherization program will be affected. In other words, those services will have to be cut back, with some jobs being lost in the process.

The organization stands to lose about $350,000 as a result of sequestration, so programs in Franklin and Patrick counties will be involved in cutbacks. At this point, these cuts seem to be a certainty. Mr. Morris said it's unlikely Congress will intervene and provide funding as it did with meat inspections and air traffic controllers. Public safety issues were involved in those decisions.

However, questions continue to be raised about whether the specific cuts related to sequestration could have prevented. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) said last week that a bill to allow more leeway in determining what will be cut would have helped, but the bill was turned down. He also said political posturing by both sides has prevented a budget to be passed, thus avoiding sequestration. Sen. Manchin said agency heads in many cases have little, if any, leeway in where the cuts could be made. That is, agencies could have started with cuts that would be least intrusive on programs that directly help people. He used Head Start as an example. But they were not given that option and an attempt to change that failed because of political pressure to make cuts that would garner the most attention and criticism.

While all of the political games are being played, those most vulnerable, like children and the elderly, must pay the price. And the games just keep getting more divisive.

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