Casey Talks Sequester Cuts in Scranton

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SCRANTON -- Senator Bob Casey used his day off from Washington to come to Lackawanna County in hopes of explaining the local consequences of the sequester cuts.

Scranton Police Chief Carl Graziano has been watching national news just as many of us have trying to make sense of the so-called "sequester." But, the federal spending cuts could have real effects for him and his officers.

Graziano said the department stands to lose federal grant money that helps pay officer overtime, but he also believes there will be a trickle down effect as federal law enforcement also faces cuts.

"You can do more with less, and certainly it's my job to do that, but when you do that every year and keep being asked to do more and do more, and keep getting less less less, at some point you have to bottom out," said Chief Graziano.

Chief Graziano's example is just one used by Senator Bob Casey at a news conference in Scranton.

"This is the way that I look at it anyway, not to point fingers, not to spend our time blaming, not to start analyzing why the votes yesterday didn't go well, it's over what we have to do now is move forward," said Senator Casey.

Casey wanted to draw attention to the effects of the $85 billion in federal cuts. Congress failed to reach an agreement this week, and won't be back in session until Monday.

"I think because we're in what I would call a new chapter now, that it's actually going into effect, I think it increases the need for urgency," added Casey.

President of The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, Austin Burke, said he sees the sequester having potential long-term effects at places including Mount Pleasant Corporate Center in Scranton. The economic development Burke anticipated there could be squelched without federal funds.

"They depend on the Small Business Administration guaranteed loans and they're cutting $900 million out of that budget. So, it's a difficult job right now that is becoming more difficult with sequestration," said Burke.

Senator Casey said he's confident Congress will come up a solution to the sequester sooner rather than later. He noted that the latest Democratic proposal was only nine votes short in the Senate.

Casey and the rest of the lawmakers are due back in Washington on Monday.