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Federal budget cuts could have huge impact on New Mexico

By Vanessa de la Viña, vanessa@kvia.com
Published On: Feb 26 2013 08:29:44 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 10:34:20 PM CST

ABC-7's Vanessa de la Vina reports.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -

Impending federal budget cuts could hit New Mexico hard, according to Chris Erickson, a New Mexico State University economics professor.

The White House released reports on how sequestration will impact each state individually. As far as New Mexico goes, there could be cuts in funding across the board from public schools to military bases.

Erickson said the sequestration's impact on the state could be one of the largest in the country. He attributed that belief to the fact that 4 percent of the state's employment is federal.

He estimated about 28,000 jobs will be lost in the state because of the sequester.

According to a report from the White House, the state Department of Health will lose about $84,000 resulting in fewer HIV tests.

The report also shows about 7,000 civilian Department of Defense jobs will be furloughed, including employees who work at White Sands Missile Range. $33 million in army base operations and $10 million in Air Force operations funding will be cut, according to the report.

"That's going to have a real impact on our local economy. If you're being furloughed, you're not buying new cars, not going out to dinner, not buying clothing and all of that is going to have an impact on local business conditions," Erickson said.

The report also shows there will be big cuts in New Mexico primary and secondary education.

Jo Galvan, a spokeswoman for Las Cruces Public Schools, told ABC-7 the cuts should not affect the district this school year, but they do create some uncertainty for the future.

"Any cuts are something to make you worry about, think about but we prepare for it," she said. "We've been really cautious about adding staff with soft money, federal money. So we even feel that next year we'll probably be in very good shape. It's not to say we won't face any cuts at all, but we're hoping we didn't add very many staff so in the long run we wouldn't have to lose any staff."

The White House reports that $6.1 million will be cut from public schools. The report says that puts about 80 teacher and aide jobs at risk. The report also says 12,000 fewer students will be served and about 30 schools would not get funding.

"Those are big numbers, but you have to break it down by what our total budget is. We get about $30 million from federal funding, so when you're talking about a few percentage points, those are big numbers, but it's not a huge amount compared to the total that we get," Galvan said.

Despite hearing the Las Cruces School District should be fine, some Las Crucens are worried about school budgets getting cut at all.

"I don't know if schooling is the place they should cut it. I'm sure there's better places they could cut it," said Las Crucen Angie Taylor.

"I have four children. Two of them are still in the public schools. I see things that the schools need now. To remove essential funding at this moment in time that's tragic," said Bob Agnew, another Las Crucen.

In addition to the $6 million from schools, the White House reports $4.4 million will be cut from special education. The report says that equals about 50 teachers, aides and staff who help children with disabilities.

For the full report released by the White House, click here.

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