Sequestration: 10 ways Southwest Florida will feel today's federal budget cuts

The United States Capitol is reflected in the Capitol reflecting pool Wednesday evening, Feb. 27, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Photo by Alex Brandon

The United States Capitol is reflected in the Capitol reflecting pool Wednesday evening, Feb. 27, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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Employees of Wall Systems Inc. of Southwest Florida installed firestop materials in the new Lee County VA Outpatient Clinic, June 9, 2011, in Cape Coral, Florida to prevent a possible fire from spreading through walls.

Photo by KHARLI ROSE // Buy this photo

Employees of Wall Systems Inc. of Southwest Florida installed firestop materials in the new Lee County VA Outpatient Clinic, June 9, 2011, in Cape Coral, Florida to prevent a possible fire from spreading through walls.

Military veterans will remain relatively unscathed under sequestration, but those transitioning into civilian life and searching for jobs may lose employment programs.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is exempt from sequestration and by law, its budget can’t be slashed by more than 2 percent, far less than the 5-percent-plus cuts for other agencies under sequestration.

READ MORE: Veterans' health-care not affected, but jobs service is

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National Park Service units nationwide were asked to come up with cuts totaling about 5 percent of their budgets, or $841,000 for Everglades National Park and $331,000 at Big Cypress.

At Big Cypress, the cuts could mean shorter hours at the preserve’s visitor centers, closed campgrounds and trails, and reduced Florida panther monitoring flights.

READ MORE: Everglades National Park, Big Cypress Preserve cutting services

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Health care

Photo by Jupiterimages

Health care

Health and hospitals

The Lee Memorial Health System in Lee County estimates $6.5 million will be cut annually from Medicare reimbursement for treating the elderly.

Federal authorities say the state will lose $1.8 million for public health.

READ MORE: Hospitals, physicians, health officials face cuts in Collier, Lee

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Violence Against Women grants

On the heels of a victory lauded by activists Thursday, when the U.S. House of Representatives reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, programs under the law could lose more than $20 million, including about $400,000 in Florida due to sequestration.

For the coming fiscal year, the Justice Department’s Office of Violence Against Women requested $412.5 million, the same as it received in 2012.

READ MORE: Violence Against Women Act extended, but money cut

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Job-placement agencies

The White House said in a press release that job-placement services in Florida is one of the ways that sequestration could hurt people looking for work in the state.

In 2012, 16,882 of a total of 19,129 people who registered with the Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board Inc. were hired, which includes seasonal and agricultural hires

READ MORE: Region's job placement services will work around budget cuts

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Head Start

Voluntary pre-kindergartner Xavier Anzualda, 4, rides up and down the sidewalk at the playground at the Guadalupe Center for Family Education on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010 in Immokalee. The facility opened two Head Start classrooms for infants to three-year-olds in a partnership with Redlands Christian Migrant Association. David Albers/Staff

Photo by DAVID ALBERS // Buy this photo

Voluntary pre-kindergartner Xavier Anzualda, 4, rides up and down the sidewalk at the playground at the Guadalupe Center for Family Education on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010 in Immokalee. The facility opened two Head Start classrooms for infants to three-year-olds in a partnership with Redlands Christian Migrant Association. David Albers/Staff

Despite a White House estimate that 2,700 Florida children would lose access to Head Start, a federally funded educational program for low-income children up to age five, Southwest Florida leaders are optimistic the area will emerged relatively unscathed for now.

At the Immokalee-based Redlands Christian Migrant Association, which serves more than 3,500 children at about 60 sites, officials said there’s flexibility until the end of September when it comes to dealing with funding cuts. Eventually, RCMA officials would have to decide between closing a few of the centers with diminishing demand or closing selected classrooms to keep all centers operating, said Bill Coats, director of communications and marketing.

READ MORE: Local educators hoping to avoid Head Start cuts

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Lines of people waiting to get tickets, check luggage and go through security gates filled Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers.

Photo by LEXEY SWALL, File // Buy this photo

Lines of people waiting to get tickets, check luggage and go through security gates filled Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers.

Air travel

Passengers at Southwest Florida International Airport likely will see longer security lines if widespread national furloughs touch the region, though the exact impact isn’t known locally.

Nationally, the White House reports the vast majority of nearly 47,000 Federal Aviation Administration employees would be furloughed one or two days per pay period — though some Republican lawmakers say FAA decision-makers are exaggerating the sequestration impacts.

READ MORE: Expect longer lines at airports

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FEMA fire grants

Immokalee fire trucks.

Photo Courtesy of Leo Rodgers

Immokalee fire trucks.

Three local fire districts employing 19 firefighters with a combined $3 million in federal grants don’t expect to be touched by federal budget cuts.

The districts — Big Corkscrew, East Naples and Immokalee — have grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which the White House has said will have to reduce its grant funding.

“I don’t anticipate anything happening and I haven’t heard anything in the industry,” said East Naples Fire Chief Kingman Schuldt, whose district has a $1.7 million grant to hire and retain nine firefighters.

READ MORE: Fire districts not expecting to get hit

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Mental health agencies

Cuts to a major grant that provides help to mentally ill adults and children might eventually trickle down to the Collier County-based David Lawrence Center, CEO David Schimmel said.

Any impact likely won’t be immediate, and predicting the fallout can’t be done now, Schimmel said. But 40 percent of the center’s funding comes from the state, which receives federal grants to distribute to local agencies.

READ MORE: Cuts could trickle down to David Lawrence Center

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School readiness programs

Local officials have been told by the state to expect an 8.8 percent cut in school readiness subsidies, said Susan Block, CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida.

READ MORE: Students could see cuts to school readiness programs

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