Budget Cuts Will Affect OK Airports, Senior Nutrition Programs

Friday, March 1st 2013, 10:56 pm
By: Tess Maune

With the stroke of a pen, President Barack Obama triggered $85 billion of federal spending cuts.

There's a long list of federally funded programs on the chopping block. Everything from education to research to national security will be affected, and Oklahomans will take a hit right along with the rest of the nation.

The FAA says there are towers and facilities across the state that could close or cut back on hours. The midnight air traffic control shift at Tulsa International Airport could possibly be eliminated. The FAA says all controllers, including at Tulsa and Oklahoma City, will be subject to furlough, one day per pay period, beginning in April.

And for travelers, this could mean long lines and delays when airports are the busiest.

3/1/2013 Related Story: President Obama Signs Order To Begin Spending Cuts

All federally-assisted senior nutrition programs will see a drop in funding. The Tulsa/Creek County Senior Nutrition Program serves 1,500 meals a day to low-income, homebound seniors.

Director Rhonda Lynn said 61 percent of their funding comes from the feds. The state makes up the rest, so Lynn said the cuts may not be too drastic. Still, she's anticipating a 5-to-7 percent decrease and preparing to lose about $70,000. Lynn said the only way to absorb the cuts is to reduce food and personnel, in turn cutting services to seniors.

On the upside, the Tulsa Meals on Wheels program runs on private donations, and says it's ready and willing to help any senior whose meals stop being served.

Long-term and emergency unemployment benefits aren't immune, either. The National Association of State Workforce Agencies says those weekly benefits may be reduced by roughly 10 percent, which the White House says is about $400.

However, state benefits shouldn't be affected and Governor Fallin said her team has been planning for sequestration for months and believes the state is well-prepared.

These cuts only represent a small portion of the $85 billion being slashed by sequester.

Over 10 years, the reductions will total a little more than a trillion dollars.

But a study by George Mason University projects sequestration will translate into more than a million job losses nationwide, with an estimated 16,000 lost here in Oklahoma.

3/1/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Public Schools Stand To Lose Nearly $1 Million In Sequestration