Florida to get worst of sequester

TaxWatch says drastic federal budget cuts would result in 2nd recession

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida TaxWatch says if Congress can't reach a deal to avoid the so-called sequester before Friday, then the economic recovery would halt, and Florida has more on the line than almost any other state.

Jerry Parrish, the group's chief economist, says Florida stands to lose more than most if Congress doesn't head off $85 million in automatic spending cuts because of its tourism hot spots and military bases.

SPECIAL SECTION: What is sequestration?

More than a 100,000 Floridians are active or reserve soldiers, and 30,000 more are civilian employees of the Pentagon.

"We have a big defense industry. They are going to see cuts. All federal employees will see a cut in their pay, and possibly have to take furloughs. It will also affect (U.S.) Customs and Border (Patrol)," Parrish said.

Florida schools could lose $80 million, 750 teachers could lose their jobs, environmental projects could lose $6 million in federal funding, and about $4 million used to provide meals to low income seniors would be cut.

Parrish said the cuts could set off a chain reaction that could push Florida into a second recession.

"Continuing contractions, because of the lack of investment and continued consumer spending, certainly could head us toward a recession again," Parrish said Tuesday.

While many agree the federal government needs to break its spending addiction, Congress remains divided on when and where to cut. If the stalemate holds, the decision will be made without them.

Gov. Rick Scott came out strong against the automatic spending cuts Monday, comparing Congress to school children in a game of chicken.

"It's disappointing that the federal government can't do what we've done in our state," Scott said.

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