WASHINGTON – The current stalemate in Congress over budget cuts known as the “fiscal cliff” could affect area commuters.
Metro will directly lose $12 million in funding and there will be a substantial loss in revenue without the fares of laid off federal workers no longer using the system, says Jim Dinegar, president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.
“Their calculations have it north of $25 million, maybe up to $30 million a year in cuts to Metro,” Dinegar says. “That’s not a good proposition by any stretch.”
Thousands of layoff notices could be going out very soon to affected federal workers and those who work for defense contractors, Dinegar says.
“Those notices are going to make the holidays, the Thanksgiving table discussion pretty bad,” he says.
Federal cuts could also could hurt the region’s overall transportation system, says D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.
“That flies in the face of our effort to get people out of automobiles,” the mayor says.
It could also hurt the city’s recent economic boom, making it less attractive to businesses, Gray says. That translates into lost sales tax revenue, which he says could impact the city’s already tight budget.
It’s estimated Virginia, Maryland and D.C. together could lose more than 300,000 jobs if the mandatory cuts become a reality.
Virginia state Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Alexandria) says his state could be hit very hard, especially the defense contractors in Northern Virginia.
“If they let it happen, to put the genie back in the bottle is going to take a lot more effort than to reach an agreement,” Saslaw says.