Washington leaders bracing for drastic sequester cuts

Washington leaders bracing for drastic sequester cuts
SEATTLE -- If politicians can't reach a deal on the sequester, Washington could see drastic cuts in healthcare, education and traffic control.

State Health Secretary Mary Selecky said if congress doesn't stop our fall over the fiscal cliff, she fears she'll lose $22 million in federal money.

Health programs for 16,000 pregnant women could go away, and a vaccine program for 4,000 children could be eliminated.

Schools across the state could also face devastating cuts of $11.5 million from the state budget. More than a million students would lose federal help, and 70,000 kids could lose access to Head Start.

"We're going to face those cuts in our classrooms, in our communities and we don't have any control over that," said Justin Fox-Bailey of the Snohomish Education Association.

Air traffic controllers could also be furloughed around the state, and towers at regional airports such as King County, Renton Municipal and Paine Field could close.

Any cuts to air traffic control could also mean delays at airports, which means longer lines for travelers.

It all begs the question: What are legislators from Washington doing about it?

Most, such as Rep. Denny Heck, met and called constituents all week to warn them to brace for the worst. But only one lawmaker introduced a bill to avoid the cliff.

Rep. Adam Smith said his Sequestration Relief Act would reduce spending, free up the economy and protect against defense cuts. But, with the clock ticking, it will most likely never make it to a vote before the March 1 deadline.

The union for air traffic controllers said even with the sequester, it will still be safe for travelers to fly, but it will take longer.