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Human service agencies held a press briefing in Raleigh today to call attention to the ongoing (and growing) pain afflicting people in need as the results of the absurd acroos-the-board “sequestration” cuts enacted by Congress eralier this year.  WRAL.com has the story here.

This is from a press release distributed at the event:

As both houses of Congress continue to debate the next steps in the federal budget, non-profit groups from around the Triangle hosted a press conference Tuesday to address the extreme damage already done to working families in North Carolina due to automatic, across-the-board sequestration and to call for replacing sequestration with a balanced approach that includes new revenues. Read More

Tired of incessant delays during their flights home caused by the furlough of FAA air controllers, Congress voted last night and this morning to find the money to end the furloughs. About time.

Of course, the controller cuts have been far from the only stupid and counter-productive cuts brought on by that ultimate of inside-the-Beltway ideas/terms: “sequestration.”

Think Progress  has 12 more that you can read by clicking here.

Meanwhile, in a related vein, it seems worth noting that this morning’s editorial cartoon by Dana Summers of Tribune Media Services that appeared in the print edition of Raleigh’s News & Obsever  (you can look at it by clicking here)  is a classic example of what happens when ill-informed people rely on inaccurate and offensive stereotypes as the basis for their “opinions.” Thanks goodness our safety isn’t in the hands of intellectually lazy knuckleheads like Mr. Summers.

Phil BergerAs you may recall, a spokesperson for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger had the following to say about a recent effort by folks at the North Carolina Justice Center (NC Policy Watch’s parent organization) to call attention to the impacts of the federal budget sequester here in North Carolina:

“We are not engaging in the left-wing N.C. Justice Center’s daily publicity stunts,” said Amy Auth, spokeswoman for state Senate leader Phil Berger, in an email. “They should voice their concerns with federal legislation to our federal legislators.”

Today, comes news from the Department of Public Instruction that North Carolina schools will suffer a $63 million cuts as the result of the sequester — most of it in programs that serve vulnerable children.

Still think all this sequester business is a publicity stunt that doesn’t involve you Senator?

 

The impact of sequestration on the federal courts will be direct and immediate,  U.S. District Judge Julia Gibbons said this week at the courts’ biannual Judicial Conference.

That’s particularly true because the judicial budget is so heavily driven by personnel costs for judges, court staff, public defenders, jurors, and  security officers and for the space they use and the technology and equipment they need.

According to a release from the Judicial Conference, up to 2,000 employees could be laid off or furloughed one day per pay period this fiscal year. These cuts are in addition to the loss of over 1,800 court staff over the last 18 months, which represents a 9 percent decline. Staffing levels right now are at March 2005 levels and could drop another five to ten percent by the end of September.

Just a few ways those cuts will be felt:

Public Safety: There will be fewer probation officers to supervise criminal offenders released into the community. Funding for drug testing and mental health treatment will be cut 20 percent.

Cases Delayed: With fewer available clerks’ office staff and the need to focus on criminal cases, there could be significant delays in the processing of civil and bankruptcy cases, which could adversely affect economic recovery.

Court Security: There will be a 30 percent cut in funding for court security systems and equipment and court security officers will work fewer hours, exposing courts and those who use them to possible vulnerabilities.

Federal Defenders: Staffing levels of federal public defenders will decline, which could result in delays in the appointment of defense counsel, and payments to attorneys appointed under the Criminal Justice Act could be delayed several weeks at the end of the year.

Information Technology: Deep cuts will be made for IT programs that the courts depend on for daily case processing and which have enabled the Judiciary to achieve efficiencies and limit budget growth.