El Pasoans brace for budget cuts if lawmakers do not reach deal

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 12:36am

Billions of dollars in forced budget cuts are only four days away and we have a better idea of just how much we'll feel the effects here in Texas.

"It's going to really cause havoc within our schools," said Norma De La Rosa with the El Paso Teachers Association.

De La Rosa was shocked by large federal budget cuts to education.

Texas will lose about $67.8 million in funding for primary and secondary education if lawmakers don't reach a deal on sequestration.

"That’s a bomb shell. We lost $5.4 billion in the last legislative session just here in Texas and to hear that staggering amount of what we might lose here in Texas again at the federal level is just astounding," said De La Rosa.

That would put about 930 teacher and aide jobs at risk.

In addition, about 172,000 fewer students would be served and about 280 fewer schools would receive funding.

"We've got classrooms now that are overcrowded, we lose any more teachers, parents can expect to see kindergarten classes with 30 kids and that's not a good situation for our kids. That's not a good learning environment for our kids," said De La Rosa.

It could also soon be harder for Texans without jobs to find work.

The state would lose more than $2 million in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement.

Places like Workforce Solutions of the Upper Rio Grande would feel the impacts.

"Our unemployment rate is high and we’re getting ready to help more people find employment and we're going to find ourselves without the resources necessary to help El Paso,” said CEO Lorenzo Reyes.

This means more than 83,000 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment.

Reyes said massive budget cuts could cause a devastating domino effect.
"Not only are we going to be impacted but many other industries and many other organizations in the community will also be impacted and they will need assistance in finding jobs," said Reyes.

The military will take the biggest hit.

Army base operation funding would be cut by $233 million in Texas.

Spokesperson for Fort Bliss, Major Joe Buccino said he's not surprised by the proposed cuts.

He said Fort Bliss is still looking at ways to ensure the highest quality of life for soldiers and their families.


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