Sequestration would reach far into the Virginia Peninsula community - and affect health services

Like a victim tied to buzz saw table in an old movie melodrama, federal, state and local agencies and departments, and a host of businesses and nonprofit organizations are watching with alarm as budget blades churn toward them.

On Friday automatic federal budget cuts known as sequestration go into effect unless Congress votes to halt or delay them. If sequestration takes effect, the cuts slice from 5 to 10 percent from federal funding that feeds a wide range of programs and businesses in Hampton Roads. The cuts affect both defense and non-defense departments, with few exemptions. Defense contractors, military personnel and bases, schools and health services providers are among those directly affected, but sequestration reaches further into the community. Libraries, senior nutrition programs, workforce training, preschool classes also will feel the cuts.

Federal agencies and departments have said they will furlough nonessential employees, delay or eliminate capital projects and maintenance programs and reduce grants to states, localities, businesses, schools and nonprofits to offset the lost funding. Head Start programs will drop children from their rolls. Clinics will provide fewer screenings and immunizations. Nutrition programs not exempt from cuts will deliver fewer meals. Parks will cut back hours and employees. Housing assistance programs will help fewer families.

Daily Press reporters offer a look at how sequestration will hit our communities. The round-up is by no means complete, but it provides a good sense of the reach of the sequestration buzz saw.


Defense spending and employment accounted for slightly more than 46 percent of the region's gross national product in 2011, according to the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. So when Pentagon officials say sequestration will mean deep cuts due in military operations, it targets a main pillar of the economy in southeastern Virginia.

In broad terms, sequestration will hit the Hampton Roads military community in at least three ways:

•People: Thousands of civilian defense employees will be furloughed for up to 22 days. Temporary employees will be let go.

•Local bases: Cutbacks and maintenance and construction

•Operations: Training exercises, combat deployments and the work needed to maintain proficiency in certain tasks will be curtailed to save money.

The furloughs of civilian defense workers will likely take place over time – one day week for up to 22 weeks, assuming Congress does not act in the meantime. For Hampton Roads, this amounts to a 20-percent pay cut for roughly 40,000 people, the estimated number of civilian defense workers who live in the region, according to the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission.

On local military bases, routine maintenance is being deferred. Joint Base Langley-Eustis spokespeople have said they are focusing on emergency work and putting off other jobs to the extent possible.

Finally, Hampton Roads residents who love "the sound of freedom" may see fewer fighter jets in the skies – both from the Air Force at Langley AFB in Hampton and the Navy at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach.

Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said flying hours will drop by 203,000 hours across the service if the budget crisis persists.

The Navy will shut down four of its nine carrier air wings, and some of those aircraft are based at Naval Air Station Oceana.

School divisions

Local school divisions expect to see millions in cuts in funding specifically allocated for special education and career and technical programs, as well as support for the commonwealth's neediest students.

Newport News is bracing for cuts of up to $1.5 million. Hampton projects cuts of about $760,000 to close to $1.2 million.

Cuts to federal military impact aid, which compensates for lost property tax revenue, further decrease some divisions' general operating budgets both in the current year and fiscal year 2014.

Newport News is expecting to lose $300,000 in aid each year, and Hampton is estimating from $88,500 to $136,500.