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County Urges Congress to Avoid Sequester

— Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett urged Congress to avoid the sequester, deep automatic budget cuts, that could be implemented March 1 if Congress fails to act.

Leggett testified Feb. 19 with Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.

“The impact on Montgomery County from the sequestration could undo the economic gains we’ve made as the county and our country have begun to emerge from the financial crisis,” said Leggett. “The loss to our county of millions of dollars of revenue could plunge us back into a severe slowdown causing budget shortfalls and a stagnant economy. We can’t let that happen.”

Leggett testified that Montgomery County has 47,000 federal workers and thousands of businesses that contract with the federal government, “all of whom will be directly affected if Congress does not act,” Leggett said.

As well as damaging impact on local economy, a sequester would impact social services, health and safety, medical research, law enforcement, education and many other day-to-day life of residents, according to county officials.

“We can’t let that happen.”

— County Executive Isiah Leggett

“Maryland has 130,000 federal workers who salaries could be cut 20 percent due to furloughs. In fiscal year 2012, Montgomery County alone had $5 billion in prime federal contract awards that would be adversely affected,” according to County officials

“Sequestration would feel like a cold to most of the nation,” said Prince George’s County Executive Baker, but to the rest of the Washington Metropolitan area, “it would feel like a bad case of pneumonia.”

Maryland has 852,000 students who would be impacted. Maryland receives $196 million from federal government to provide support for low-income students, $200 million to support the needs of students with disabilities and $90 million for Head Start. The sequestration could result in a five percent cut in this funding that would affected 11,728 low-income students at schools across the state, lead to 198 layoffs of school employees, layoffs of 100 special education teachers, and services cut for 550 Head Start kids.