The federal spending cuts that went into effect Friday will cost area workforce boards at least $1.1 million, officials said Friday, a loss that will force them to curb certain programs and possibly lay off some workers.
Officials at the workforce boards for Travis County and for a nine-county area that surrounds it said they will lose portions of their funding for child-care and job- and life-skills training programs for low-income workers and youth.
In a public statement Friday, the Workforce Solutions Capital Area Workforce Board, which covers Travis County, said the so-called sequestration will cost it $650,000 for child-care services and another $450,000 for its Workforce Investment Act training programs. The combined total accounts for roughly 3 percent of its total budget, a spokeswoman said.
The loss of the child-care funding will force the board to halt new enrollments and further reduce enrollment through attrition, eliminating services for about 230 children and their job-seeking parents, the board said.
The cuts to the workforce investment program won’t be felt until early summer, the board said, but it ultimately would amount to 200 fewer people being served by those training programs.
In the public statement, executive director Alan Miller said the board will work to “minimize the impact” of the cuts. But given the rapid economic and workforce changes brought on by new technology and innovation, he said, the education and skills required of the labor force are only increasing.
“This is the time to be investing in our economic future,” he said.
The Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area, which serves the nine-county ring around Travis County, also expects to see spending cuts that “minimally involve” similar programs there, executive director James Satterwhite said in an email.
“We do not anticipate needing to stop child care for any of our children presently being served,” Satterwhite wrote. “The effect might be that we simply do not enroll as aggressively as we would normally when children leave care.”
The sequestration, which includes spending reductions in a variety of federal departments and programs, automatically kicked in Friday after Washington lawmakers failed to agree on an alternative. The cuts decrease federal spending by 5 percent — a total of $85 billion this year and $1.2 trillion over the next decade.
Congress and the White House are continuing talks toward a deal that would modify and perhaps temper the impact of those reductions.