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.