Federal budget issues cast pall over Montgomery County -- Gazette.Net


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Uncertainty surrounding potential federal budget cuts was characterized Monday as a cloud hanging over the heads of government and industry.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said federal budget challenges have placed a cloud on many projects, leases and upgrades to current federal facilities.

“We’ve got to get a budget,” he said.

Leggett joined Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Dist. 8) of Kensington and Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D) of Pikesville on Monday on a panel addressing a room of Maryland business executives, real estate specialists and government officials during a summit on the impact of looming federal budget.

The federal Budget Control Act of 2011 detailed initial cost reductions of almost $1 trillion over a decade designed to offset debt ceiling increases of as much as $2.1 trillion. Further cuts could push the total to well more than $1 trillion. A bipartisan “super committee” authorized to specify reductions failed to do so last year, and across-the-board cuts will begin Jan. 2 if Congress does not change the plan by then.

According to information from Montgomery County, in fiscal year 2012, the federal government awarded $10.4 billion in contracts and $168 million in grants to Montgomery County companies and organizations. In 2011, the federal government occupied 8.4 million square feet of leased space in Montgomery County.

Nineteen federal regulatory agencies call Montgomery County home, Leggett said.

Van Hollen, who sits on the House Budget Committee, said Congress is working to draft an alternative plan that would prevent the across-the-board cuts from happening.

However, that resolution is not likely to happen until after the election, he said.