Automatic Federal budget cuts to impact 15,000 Ky. jobs

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT/AP) - Automatic, across-the-board budget cuts set to kick in a week from now could affect 15,000 Kentucky military jobs and leave a negative $48-million impact on Madison County's Blue Grass Army Depot.

Assistant Secretary of the Army Katherine Hammack says the automatic federal budget cuts could lead to losses of over $600 million in annual revenue that's generated by the Army in Kentucky.

While the Army predicts the economic loss related to the Blue Grass Army Depot through furloughs, loss of private sector jobs, and other cuts would be the second greatest in Kentucky, Fort Campbell would be the most impacted Army facility in the state. Army estimates put Fort Campbell's negative impact at $69 million.

The mayor of Richmond, which is just a few miles from the Bluegrass Army Dept, says they're not sure how much it will impact them.

"We're trying to get as prepared as we can be, there are just some factors you can't know," Jim Barnes said.

Barnes says many of the weapons at the depot are scheduled to be demolished starting in 2018 so local leaders were already preparing for the eventual job cuts.

"We know that those jobs are gone and what we're doing now is doing a feasibility study of what is the impact," he said.

State leaders from across the country are gathering in Washington this weekend for the annual winter meeting of the National Governors Association. Republican and Democratic governors joined on Friday to condemn massive automatic spending cuts - known as the "sequester" - that are set to begin on March 1.

White House officials warn that inaction could lead to widespread flight delays, shuttered airports, closed seashores and more than 1 million furloughed employees.

Congressional Republicans say they're willing to let the automatic spending cuts take effect. They oppose President Barack Obama's blend of targeted savings and tax increases to tackle federal deficits.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says the so-called sequester will slow the economy and hurt the middle class. He says thousands of teachers will be laid off and air traffic controllers will be forced into unpaid leave, leading to airport delays. He says almost 800,000 defense workers will also face furloughs.

Obama says he wants a balanced plan to deal with the deficit that mixes spending cuts with more tax revenue.

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