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Sequestration cuts loom

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The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences announced to the UA system board of trustees a couple of weeks ago that if Congress does not raise the federal debt ceiling by Jan. 2, 2013, UAMS will lose $12.2 million. The across the board cuts in federal spending, called sequestration, would come at a cost to research (nearly $6 million), Area Health Education Centers ($2 million), the medical center ($3.2 million) and the College of Medicine ($869,097).

Yesterday, federal Clerk of Court James McCormack said sequestration would require 28 percent across-the-board cuts to federal courts, including bankruptcy, district, etc. The cuts would be "devastating," McCormack said; "we've never seen anything like it."

McCormack said sequestration would require that he cut his payroll by $800,000. He has a staff of 55. With fewer employees, McCormack said, he may not have the manpower to check court filings for accuracy, though he said the bar has received plenty of training in how to file electronically. He said the courts would continue to operate, but that jurors might not be paid (they currently get $45 a day). He is unsure what the cuts to the marshal's service, which provides security, might be. He remains hopeful that Congress will pass a deficit reduction bill that prevents sequestration.

Federal agencies, including the National Center for Toxicological Research in Pine Bluff and the regional offices of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Housing and Urban Development referred questions on sequestration to the Office of Management and Budget, which could not break the cuts down by state. The state Department of Education said it will not know until the end of the 2012-2013 school year what impact sequestration might have on it. The state Department of Higher Education is looking into the impact.

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