Budget Cuts

Official U.S. Air Force

Furloughs have begun at Mountain Home Air Force base. Friday is the first day many civilian workers had to stay home after across-the-board budget cuts – known as the sequester – take effect.

Chief Master Sergeant Alex del Valle says the furloughs are already changing base operations. He says the civilian airmen work alongside the military airmen, and their support is essential.

Robin Wagner / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho’s regional airport towers have been given a short reprieve from federal budget cuts known as the sequester. That includes Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Lewiston and Hailey. The towers are now set to close on June 15th.

Closing the towers means planes could still fly, but pilots would take on the responsibilities the towers now hold.

Courtesy of the Idaho Statesman

It’s been more than a month since the federal budget cuts took effect. The across-the-board spending cuts impact federal agencies including the Pentagon and the FAA. American Indian tribes in Idaho are now beginning to see the impact of those cuts.

Amber Ebarb is a policy analyst at the National Congress of American Indians. She says for many tribes, the sequester could not have come at a worse time. She says there are nearly 18,000 American Indians eligible for services in Idaho.

Andrew W. Sieber / Flickr Creative Commons

Airports in Hailey and Pocatello will close their air traffic control towers on May 5. The Lewiston-Nez Perce County and Idaho Falls Regional Airports are also set to close sometime after April 7.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The control towers at 14 small to medium sized airports around the Northwest will close on April first in response to automatic federal budget cuts. That will mean four airports in Idaho.  That's according to an airport industry association. But regional airlines intend to keep flying to those cities they now serve.

Robin Wagner / Flickr Creative Commons

Friday's looming sequestration deadline has left federal agencies struggling to come up with contingency plans.  According to the White House, the Federal Aviation Administration's [FAA] budget would be cut by $600 million. 

At the air traffic control tower at Boise’s airport, manager Gordon Stewart stays away from the political debate. He’s faced potential cuts before, but Stewart says two days away from the deadline -- these cuts seem very possible.

Kids In School
Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

The White House says Idaho schools will lose about $6.6 million this school year if the sequester happens. These automatic spending cuts are set to take  effect this Friday unless Congress reaches an agreement.  

Courtesy of I Corps, U.S. Army

Northwest military bases, universities, national labs and parks await guidance for how to implement automatic federal budget cuts. The so-called "sequester" is scheduled to take effect Friday.  The White House Sunday released a state by state report detailing the impacts of  automatic spending cuts. You can read the report on how these cuts could affect Idaho here.

The commander of U.S. military forces in the Pacific says every scenario he's contemplated for the automatic spending cuts hurts readiness. Admiral Samuel Locklear had just toured Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma on Friday. Locklear says one of the most visible impacts will be furloughs of civilian defense workers, which could start in April.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Major portions of the cleanup work at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation could stall if budget cuts known as the sequester start in March. The impasse comes just as two tanks at the southeast Washington site may be leaking.

A report by the Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee estimates that the budget cuts beginning in March would furlough more than 1,000 workers at Hanford for about six weeks. The document also says that pumping radioactive tank waste out of suspect underground tanks to newer vessels would be delayed.

Philip Taylor / Flickr Creative Commons

The Nampa School District is mired in a serious budget crisis. Accounting errors discovered last summer have put the state’s third largest district deep in the red. The deficit is now believed to be more than $4 million.

The Nampa School District passed its levy this week. That means $1.6 million will be used for things like curriculum and building maintenance.

But the state’s third largest district has cut more than $5 million in other areas just in the last few months. That’s a result of two shortfalls. One of the line items taking a big hit in Nampa is the substitute teaching budget.

Last year Nampa spent $771,600 for substitute teachers. This year the district plans to cut $600,000 by using subs only for long term assignments such as maternity leave.