The so-called sequester is looking almost inevitable at this point. The deadline is fast approaching and there is no deal, so what does that mean for Minnesotans if no agreement can avert the cuts?
Minnesota is less dependent on federal dollars than other states, ranking 47th out of 50. That said, when you're talking about $85 billion in cuts, there's no doubt the state will share some of the pain. Still, the answer city, county and state officials give when asked about the impact is that there's no clear estimate just yet -- but it won't be good.
Even far from the blame game in Washington, D.C., the fallout from the sequestration will be felt along East Lake Street, where a lobby is filled with women, infants and children waiting for food vouchers.
"It's stressful because it's going to impact the health of our moms, our babies and our kids," said Karen Mayer.
In fact, half the state health department's budget comes from the federal government. That means sequestration could affect vaccinations for children, HIV testing and even Meals on Wheels for seniors.
Education would also be hit hard, with a total loss of $16 million for primary, secondary and special education programs. At the University of Minnesota, $30 million in research grants could vanish.
"That's just the tip of the iceberg," said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.
According to Coleman, his city could lose as much as $1.5 million in funding for police and firefighters as well as millions more in block grants for neighborhood development.
Yet, since Minnesota doesn't have a large defense sector, the state will fare better than most. State economists estimate growth could shrink by 5,000 jobs this year.
Most will notice the effects at the airport because fewer air traffic controllers could mean flights will be delayed by up to 90 minutes. Then again, travelers may not be at the gate anyway because they'll be stuck in security, where fewer TSA agents will have to screen the same volume of passengers.
While inconvenience is one thing, it's another issue when children go hungry. County services stress they still want people in need to sign up even though they may face cuts because they expect the real impact won't be immediate. Rather, they anticipate the effects will be felt over the course of several months.