A blizzard of numbers was presented to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee this morning as to the potential impact of the federal sequestration cuts on the state. Overall, it shows a potential cut of $24.8 million in federal funds going to the state in the current federal fiscal year, or 5.3 percent, though JFAC budget analyst Jared Tatro warned, “Like everything else … I wouldn’t take (that) … to the bank.”
“We do know that there will be an impact to state government,” Jani Revier, director of Gov. Butch Otter’s Division of Financial Management, told the joint committee. But the state may not know the impact “before this year’s legislative session is over.” She said in August, the governor directed agencies to prepare plans for if their federal funds are cut, to “get a handle on what types of federal funds agencies are receiving” and how cuts can be managed. She said, “While there may be a few critical programs” in which the state would want to replace lost federal funds with state general funds, “these will be few and far between.” She said, “Our agency directors are prepared.”
Said Tatro, “The more we know the less we know, and that’s just kind of how it’s been for the last couple of years.” “This is a moving target,” said JFAC Co-Chair Dean Cameron, R-Rupert.
Said Revier, “We don’t have enough information to make a guess as to what kind of impact it would have on the economy. … I think it’s something we’re all watching closely. Until the federal government decides exactly how this all is going to be implemented … there’s too many unknowns, there’s too many guesses.”
“We recognize that it’s a tough situation,” Cameron said at the close of the briefing, after thanking DFM and legislative budget staffers for their report. “We hope our Congress and our president will act responsibly and figure this out.”