Advocates: 'Sequestration hurts poor, children, elderly most'

By Matt Porter

Congress's failed attempt to stop automatic cuts known as sequestration could have disastrous effects for social welfare programs here in New York.

March 4, 2013 Updated Mar 5, 2013 at 1:21 AM EST

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Congress's failed attempt to stop automatic cuts known as sequestration could have disastrous effects for social welfare programs in New York.

That's according to advocates speaking at a press conference organized by Citizen Action, including Brett Dean who works for Opportunities for Broome.

"The cuts in funding are very unfortunate because the low to moderate income families who need the services are going to suffer the most," Dean said.

Nationally, sequestration could cause the loss of 750,000 jobs, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

Speakers outlined an estimated $80 million that will be taken from general education funding in New York.

They said that could cost 1,030 education jobs, which could keep 70,000 children from receiving needed education services like special needs assistance.

Another $26 million is estimated to be cut from New York Head Start programming.

More than $3 million in healthcare cuts for HIV testing and vaccinations could impact another 70,000 adults and children from receiving proper treatment or needed vaccinations.

John Barry, of the Southern Tier AIDS Program, called on Congress to stop the cuts before it's too late.

"Stop cutting services to children, the elderly, and the sick," Barry said. "A culture that victimizes its weakest members is a culture in decline."

Unemployment, senior nutrition aid and aid to local fire stations are all also slated for major cuts.

Kathy Pfaffenbach, of Catholic Charities of Broome County, said legislators don't see the real effect of the cuts compared to what she sees in the organization's food pantry.

"They don't hear the parents when the come to pantries pleading for food so they can put food on the table," Pfaffenbach said. "They don't see the effects of baby formula being watered down to make it stretch."

All of the advocates said most of the cuts will affect programs that help children, the poor, the elderly and mentally ill.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.