Clintonites: How The Federal Sequester Could Affect You

Wondering how federal cuts proposed for action March 1 may affect you, the services you use and your wallet? Read on.


The word is everywhere these days: sequester.  But what exactly does it mean and how might it affect you and your family?

Translated, sequester is "a general cut in government spending," but is a term not often used by politicians.  Most have heard it when referring to someone who hides out, such as "the writer who sequestered himself in a remote cabin to finish a novel."

The federal sequester is a cut of $1.2 trillion dollars over the next 10 years.

For Connecticut, these figures project an approximately $8.7 million reduction in federal funding for primary and secondary schools in the state as well as about $6.3 million in funding for education of children with disabilities. Estimates also include an elimination in Head Start and Early Start programs for about 500 children statewide, a furlough of about 3,000 defense workers, and a loss of about $840,000 in funds for substance abuse treatment.

But for residents, taxpayers and electors of Clinton, what exactly does the federal sequester of $1.2 trillion dollars mean to you?

Patch asked First Selectman Willie Fritz who gave us some scenarios of how the federal cuts could affect the town of Clinton.

First, he explained, proposed cuts would be driven at the state level, not the town level. 

One spot that may receive cuts, he said, is the Community Renewal Team (CRT) Fuel Assistance program. This state-funded program helps qualified residents pay for their oil or propane heating costs during winter months. This state program is different from the heating assistance program that Families Helping Families of Clinton has funded.

"The majority of folks in Clinton who receive fuel assistance are on the state CRT program," said Fritz. "The town program helps those who may not meet the state requirements or need extra help."

Fritz said state cuts could impact existing and future grants and future funding through the state Department of Mental Health to the town's Youth & Family Service Bureau.  In the past, the Y&FSB has used state money to provide scholarships to Clinton kids so they could attend programs or area summer camps free of charge.  That funding may go away, said Fritz. 

Highway funding to improve state roads will most likely be affected, said Fritz, which will impact any future improvements to roads such as Route 1 and Route 81.

The town does not receive a lot of federal money for education, so cuts in this area would not impact the town greatly.  However, Clinton has received federal stimulus money in the past (applied to the '11-'12 Board of Education budget) and used it to fund school personnel-related costs (which was a requirement of the funding).

In addition, the town benefited from federal stimulus money given to the Estuary Transit District (9-Town Transit) to fund seven bus shelters along the shoreline bus route. Two of the shelters are in Clinton on East Main Street.

Future stimulus money is probably unlikely, said Fritz.

In addition, if you reside in Clinton and work at Bradley Airport, the U.S. Coast Guard or the Army National Guard, then the sequester could affect your job, the amount of your paycheck and/or your benefits.

Hammer McPhee February 28, 2013 at 12:43 PM
We should just approve the Democrats budget. Oh wait, they have broken the law the last 5 years and have not even submitted a federal budget! How about a deficit reduction plan? Opps, I forgot the President completely ignored all recommendations of his own Deficit Reduction Committee. Why cut when you can take more money from working folks...
Martin Shapiro February 28, 2013 at 02:36 PM
When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always be assurred of the support of Paul.
Phil Sengle February 28, 2013 at 02:57 PM
Every program has its' defenders who scream bloody murder that the sky will fall if any cuts are made. Based on that logic, no program can ever be cut and budgets never reduced. Every time I can remember the Feds talking about cutting, its just a cut in the growth of spending, not an actual reduction. The so called "cuts" for this year are a relative pittance compared to the federal budget at $85B, but are pro-rated down to somewhere in the 40's as we are into the year. Obama is a disgrace as he goes around piously preaching that thousands of teachers, fireman, policman, TSA and FAA workers will be immediately laid off. This is nonsense and is the typical scare tactic used to continue the escalation of spending, taxes and debt. When will it ever stop? Not until we stop sending liberals to Washington who pander to the lowest common denominator rather than leading. And we wonder why Connecticut is continually rated as a poor place to live and start a business.
Steve Bristol February 28, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Phil It's simply what we face here in Clinton each and every budget season--the "Firemen First Principle." I alluded to that principle a couple of years ago in a Harbor News LTE that I believe you read in front of a Town Meeting. Anyway, the "FFP" was put forth in a Washington Monthly article in March 1976 by Charles Peters. The secondary title was "Or how to beat a budget cut." The basic principle was--"Thus, [the clever bureaucrat] always picks on teachers, policemen, firemen first. …" Also, "sometimes...the clever bureaucrat will be deliberately non-specific about the jobs that might be cut" in order to rile everyone who MIGHT be subjected. That said, while we most often see this tactic used by Democrats (and their supporters), R's aren't immune to its allure. Steve
jody February 28, 2013 at 03:38 PM
Hi Mr Sengle , one fed law enforcement agency used to work for had notified staff of 12 hrs of 80 as a reduction , from what I gather prob without the ability to sub leave . This will be doing something to many groups . Many that have limited staff already . For firemen , and law enforcement less staff can equate to more risk . Glad to see comments here though that can at least be a conversation . Maybe congress can do the same , and maybe with less special interest leanings . Jody k
Phil Sengle February 28, 2013 at 04:33 PM
Jody: Its a disingenuous game as there are other things they could cut, like training, boondoggle conventions, travel, large staffs, consultants, too many bosses and fancy oversized office space. They could also delay promotions or replacements, but all of this would not cause enough pain and public outcry. Clemson Tiger explained this very well. If for example you cut education "you are hurting the children", but seldom a word about the poor performance of our public schools. All part of the handbook on fighting cuts. As I said, if the public keeps sending tax and spend liberals to Hartford and Washington, why would we expect anything to change. We are stealing from our grandchildrens future.
Alan Anderson February 28, 2013 at 11:14 PM
I can relate to the fireman first principle. It's kind of like the other side saying our nations security is in jeopardy when cutting 1 dime out of the defense budget is brought up. Same playbook....different team.
Steve Bristol March 01, 2013 at 01:29 AM
Alan If you noticed, I said that R's aren't immune to this. It's just that around here it's the D's we hear...each and every year. That said, a fair amount has already been taken out of defense...not that many more efficiencies couldn't be found---like not following the administration's 'alternative energy' policy and purchasing $27/gal biofuel. But I am concerned that sharp curtailment of certain defense programs will leave us having to play catch-up (again) at a time when it will most harm us...as in the early 2000's. Steve
Alan Anderson March 01, 2013 at 05:17 PM
Man...get over yourself.
Steve Bristol March 01, 2013 at 07:28 PM
AA I'll make a deal with you. I promise not to respond to every single reply you do not make. Steve
Alan Anderson March 01, 2013 at 08:17 PM
Deal. But if I do reply make sure you get the last word in like a true narcissist.


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