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Federal Agencies Send Letters to Cuomo Outlining Cuts

7:59 PM, Mar 1, 2013   |    comments
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By Brian Tumulty
Gannett Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Federal agency executives sent letters Friday to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other governors across the country detailing how their states likely will be affected by sequestration budget cuts.

New York State should plan on roughly $135.8 million less in federal housing assistance through the Sept. 30 end of fiscal 2013, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan wrote to Cuomo.

A spokesman for Cuomo did not respond to a request for comment.

Similar letters were sent to Albany by the Health and Human Services Department, the Defense Department and other agencies.

The Healthcare Association of New York State already knew the state's 220 hospitals face a 2 percent reduction in federal Medicare reimbursements beginning April 1.

Likewise, New York school districts learned last week they face a $102.2 million reduction in federal aid for the school year beginning in September, while public and private colleges around the state expect to lose $110 million for programs such as Federal Work-Study, the Supplemental Opportunity Grant program and research grants.

The HUD letter notes that the projected losses are estimates and won't be finalized until Congress approves a spending bill covering the rest of the fiscal year.

Federal agencies are operating on a stopgap spending bill that expires March 27.

President Barack Obama said Friday he would sign a spending bill that caps discretionary spending at $1.043 trillion - the level agreed to as part of 2011 legislation raising the nation's debt limit - even if the bill doesn't address the $85 billion in fiscal 2013 sequestration cuts.

"I think it's the right thing to do to make sure that we don't have a government shutdown,'' Obama said. "And that's preventable.''

Sequestration is a slowdown rather than a shutdown.

The biggest HUD cut in New York is expected to be $117.1 million in the federal Tenant Based Rental Assistance program, which would serve 13,013 fewer families, according to the letter from Donovan.

Homeless assistance likely will be cut about $10.6 million, the HOME program that helps local nonprofits build and rehabilitate affordable housing would be reduced by $5 million, and Housing Opportunities for People With Aids would see $3 million cut, the letter said.

HUD also has sent letters to municipal housing authorities, telling officials to expect less funding for Section 8 rental assistance.

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