Sequestration estimated to have a $920 million economic productivity impact in Arkansas

Eleventh-hour opportunities to spare the nation the economic impact of sequestration are thinning as both chambers of Legislature work on proposals that would replace the $85 billion in federally-mandated across-the-board cuts.

In Arkansas, cuts are expected to signify a $920 million economic productivity loss and could put 1,950 Arkansan jobs on the line, according to a study by George Mason University.

Broken down, approximately 900 accounts will receive cuts — excepting Medicaid, Social Security, Food Stamps, veteran benefits and federal transportation — comprised of 9.4 percent defense and 8.2 percent domestic spending, according to Arkansas News.

In Arkansas, the biggest cuts will be felt by the Pine Bluff Arsenal ($23 million), public education ($26 million) and research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences ($12.2 million).

Rural airports will feel the hit as traffic control towers in Fort Smith, Springdale, Fayetteville and Rogers are slated for closure and poultry processing plants are on edge at a proposed $2 billion USDA reduction that could necessitate furloughs.

“These furlough could result in as much as 15 days of lost production, costing roughly over $10 billion in production losses, and industry workers would experience over $400 million in lost wages,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Democrat Sen. Mark Pryor predicted the 15-day closures would result in 3.3 billion pounds of chicken and 2 billion pounds of egg products unprocessed, causing a strain on the food supply and upping prices unilaterally.

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