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But, like others, he doesn’t know what will happen in April. “It’s all a big question mark as to how it will get resolved,” Burns said.
At the top administrative levels of Hennepin and Ramsey counties, officials also say they’re uncertain about what is going to happen if the cuts remain in effect. Much of their funding comes in federal block grants that get filtered through the state and is out of their direct control.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said the cuts could be “dire” in his city and others, including possibly $1.5 million in public safety.
“Communities across the country are just emerging from the worst recession in the history of the United States and are looking to Congress for a smart, thoughtful solution,” he said.
In the medical arena, sequestration weighs on rural hospital administrators. Ben Koppelman, president of St. Joseph’s Area Health Services, a 25-bed critical access hospital in Park Rapids, said rural facilities receive a higher percentage of their income from Medicare reimbursements than their urban counterparts. A 2 percent reimbursement drop is slated for April 1, requiring “significant and dramatic changes,” Koppelman said.
A possible consequence: closing the hospital’s dental clinic that serves the indigent at a loss.
Budget cuts eventually could cut visiting hours and curtail amenities at U.S. national parks, according to the U.S. Interior Department. Officials at Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota could not be reached for comment.
Sequestration could also affect Minnesotans far from home.
Overseas, in Bahrain, a Minnesota family has been told their two elementary school children will be attending school for four days a week instead of five, beginning in April. Their mom asked that the family’s name not be used because her husband works in military intelligence. The children’s school is funded through the Department of Defense.
“I’m for budget cuts, but this chop is stupidity,” she said.
Military families already give up a lot, moving every couple of years, one parent deployed for increasingly long and stressful stretches of time. “They’re going to throw one more thing onto the heap for military families,” the mom said, adding: “Hey, you’re dumping on kids here, get it together, Congress.”
Staff writer Bill McAuliffe contributed to this report.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747