Sequestration could be 'devastating' for N. AL businesses - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Sequestration could be 'devastating' for N. AL businesses

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If lawmakers don't come to a compromise, North Alabama could be directly impacted. If lawmakers don't come to a compromise, North Alabama could be directly impacted.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

If lawmakers on Capitol Hill don't come to a compromise and make a deal to cut the federal budget deficit, North Alabama could be directly impacted.

No deal means massive cuts to the military which would hurt local businesses.

Phoenix is a nonprofit that puts disabled people to work and is also a military contractor. If Congress can't avoid a fiscal fiasco, Phoenix, and the people they help, could be in trouble.

Justin Francis with Phoenix watches the news with growing anxiety.  

"It's at a standing point   where you wake up and hope you don't get that phone call. It's scary," said Francis.

Phoenix works almost entirely with the military making cargo webs, parachute harnesses and American flags as well as providing services like custodians.

In the past couple of weeks, Phoenix's CEO Bryan Dodson has been running the numbers on possible sequestration automatic budget cuts.

"It could mean as many as half our jobs," said Dodson. "You're talking about 325, 350 people losing their jobs. Overnight."

The cutbacks would be especially cruel at Phoenix where 82 percent of the workers have severe vocational disabilities.

"This is very important for us.  This keeps us intact, keeps us in jobs, keeps our families going," said Francis.

Dodson said whatever cuts comes will be devastating but, in the meantime, the waiting itself makes things worse.

'They keep taking us to the edge and then everybody stands around and wonders why the economy's not recovering."

Dodson said layoffs at Phoenix may not even save anyone money.    

"What's going to happen to many of our folks is they're going to go back on public assistance, where they came from," said Dodson. "To the taxpayers, it's a double whammy."

Dodson said he has appealed for lawmakers to make a deal. He said it's been a long hard road for Phoenix workers, and it would be tragic to turn them back now.

   "It was hard for me and I was glad to get this job," said Francis.

Friday, the Obama administration rolled out its own list of painful cuts that sequestration would involve.

Republicans in the U.S. House are calling for a more balanced round of budget cuts that reduces the deficit without damaging national security.

The White House is insisting on higher taxes as a condition of a deal.

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