MADISON — Even as Gov. Scott Walker called on President Barack Obama to come up with alternative spending cuts to those scheduled to take effect Friday, others in Wisconsin prepared to scale back budgets, lay off workers and take other steps to deal with a loss of millions of dollars in funding.

The $85 billion in automatic cuts nationwide, known as a sequester, are the result of Congress’ failure to trim the deficit by $1.2 trillion over a decade. About half the cuts affect military spending, which will reduce their impact in Wisconsin since it doesn’t have major defense industry infrastructure.

But Wisconsin does have Fort McCoy, a 60,000-acre military training base that lies between Sparta and Tomah in western Wisconsin.

While the cuts won’t affect military personnel, most of the fort’s 1,500 civilian employees will have to take one furlough day a week beginning in the last week of April through September, said the fort’s spokeswoman Linda Fournier.

The fort may also have to reduce hours on small arms training ranges, which are operated by civilian employees, she said. That could result in longer wait times and fewer soldiers trained. The fort’s day care center may have to slash hours if the furloughs prevent the center from meeting provider-to-children ratios, forcing employees to find other child care. It also may take longer to get into the base if gate guards’ hours are cut.

Fournier said the entire region around Fort McCoy will feel the effects of the cuts as people rearrange their budgets in anticipation of what may happen.

“People are changing plans,” she said. “These aren’t all the bureaucrats in Washington making six figures. These are everyday workers. They have expenses, car payments and house payments.”

Fournier said everyone who works there is hoping for a solution.

“What are our options?” she said. “There are no options.”

The National Council of State Legislators said $5.8 billion in federal money for state-administered programs is in jeopardy. Just how much money is at stake for Wisconsin isn’t clear. Walker’s administration hasn’t prepared an estimate. The White House released a list of potential cuts to the state, but not a grand total.

The potential losses to Wisconsin identified including $10.1 million in funding for 120 teachers, aides and staff who help children with disabilities; $8.5 million for primary and secondary education; and $3.9 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality.

The Federal Aviation Administration also said that air traffic control towers at eight Wisconsin airports may be forced to close.

The air control tower at Chippewa Valley Regional Airport in Eau Claire is run by a contractor and it’s not clear whether that will be allowed to continue if the cuts go into effect, said the airport’s manager, Charity Speich.

If the air control tower had to shut down, Speich said that would hurt the airport because it would then have to share control towels with other airports which makes management inefficient.

Walker on Monday said on Fox News that the White House projections about effects of the cuts in Wisconsin amounted to “scare tactics.” He urged fellow Republicans in Congress to “call the bluff” of Obama and allow the spending cuts to take effect.

Walker, during a visit to Washington over the weekend as part of the National Governors Association meeting, called on Obama to come up with alternatives that addresses what he says is waste, fraud and abuse in federal government spending.

“The president and his allies somehow believe that the only way to continue economic growth is to continue to pour more money into federal government spending,” Walker said.

Walker is underplaying the potential effect of the cuts, said Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, a Milwaukee-based liberal advocacy group.

“Federal spending is the major part of the state’s economic opportunities and security,” Kraig said.

Kraig relies on a study done by George Mason University as to the potential effect of the cuts on Wisconsin. Citing that study, he said Wisconsin will lose 36,000 jobs.

State Department of Public Instruction services director John Johnson said specifics of how cuts to educational programs will be managed are not yet determined, as the department is awaiting further guidance from the federal government.

He cited a report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities that said about 19 programs in Wisconsin face $12 million in cuts, affecting about 13,600 students. The study also estimated special education grants to the state to be but by $11 million, affecting 5,500 students.

(14) comments

Old66

Navy-Vet - Expert no but being a vet myself I had to deal with both types of funds and non-appropriated funds are generated on the installations by the club systems, field house and other income producing MWR activities. These funds are not controlled by Congress and make these activities self sufficient and are not tax payers dollars. Appropriated funds are what will impact the installation. If you don't believe me look it up.

NavyVet

LAXTEA please cite your source that proves your claim it takes 4-5 private jobs. This will affect the entire Coulee Region as these employees live all over this area and will have less income to spend

NavyVet

Old66 so now you're a funding expert lol

NavyVet

Old66 so now you're a funding expert lol

Old66

One item I noticed is the concern for the day care center on the installation and maybe the reduction of hours being open. Might be wrong but was under the impression that the day care center is an MWR operation and funded by Non-Appropriated Funding which has nothing to do with tax payers dollars and won't be impacted at all. Another scare tactic by the installation.

NavyVet

Whiny contractors get a life

Old66

It's odd how all the contractor people lost their jobs due to loss of the mobilization mission but I have not read where the civil service employees over looking the contractors and performing contract administration have been reduced.

Balancr

Typical Tea Party response - disaster capitalism. The sequester is an opportunity to change! What to do when there's no catastrophe's? How about create one...hmmm..

CJ
CJ

Funn how "public affairs" only comments when the Government jobs may take a cut or be forced a day off here a month or so and nothing said when hundreds of contractors got let go or took huge pay cuts. Hands on experience, sadly the truth is much of Fort is a drain on your tax dollars for the most part like most of the Federal Government, simply no common sense when spending your money like a "normal" business would try to use......................

amez1978

This is not good news many people between Sparta and Tomah work there at fort. If they lose pay then small and big businesses in both cities lose money which means lose of jobs and then back to high unemployment and stalemate economy.

LAXTEA

This will be GOOD news. Government jobs are a DRAIN on the economy. Put yer thinkin caps on folks. It takes 4-5 PRIVATE sector jobs to support each government job. Cutting government "jobs" is a net GAIN for the economy.

CJ
CJ

Amen!

ShudaElectedBigJimmy

When Clinton slowed the growth of spending in the military it was called "The Peace Dividend".

Anonangel
Anonangel

Dont call on Obama, call on Congress, they have the final say.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.