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Sequester Effects Start To Be Felt In Baltimore

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Automatic federal cuts are starting to be felt here in Baltimore. It’s all because Democrats and Republicans couldn’t compromise.

Monique Griego has more on the people who are being impacted the most.

School programs in Baltimore City are expected to take a big hit and government employees have already received their furlough notices. They’re now hoping Congress will do something to save them.

As sequester cuts take effect in Maryland and across the nation, government employees are getting ready for a major drop in pay.

“Very upset, very intense. Very aggravated because they have been hanging this over our head,” said Cynthia Ennis.

Wednesday, union representatives and Fort Meade workers gathered in protest at the cuts, which will force 900 civilian employees to take 22 furlough days, a 20 percent drop in pay.

“It’s going to hurt. I mean, like you said, a lot of us work paycheck to paycheck, have kids in colleges, have kids with health and medical needs,” said Stephen Hyatt.

Hyatt says services are also being put in jeopardy. Just Wednesday, staffing was short at Fort Meade, a sick child had to be treated by a county ambulance–called in from 30 minutes away.

“We can’t tell everybody on Fort Meade not to have a heart attack on Wednesday because there’s nobody here to take care of them,” Hyatt said.

In addition to furlough days, union representatives say temporary employees are being laid off, overtime is being eliminated and hiring freezes are being enforced.

In Baltimore City Wednesday, the mayor and educational leaders denounced sequestration’s educational cuts.

“The cost of Congressional inaction is severe and Baltimore will feel it,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Head Start and other assistance programs are losing millions and grants to improve failing schools are also being slashed.

“Significant dollars are lost to serve our smallest kids in our neediest communities,” said Matthew Hornbeck.

Some emergency services like fire and EMS have applied to be exempt from furloughs but say they haven’t heard anything back yet.

If no changes are made in Baltimore, 200 children will lose their spot in Head Start July 1.

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