Federal budget cuts will impact Rhode Island

If you're like many people, when you hear the term Capitol Hill 'deficit reduction sequester' your eyes glaze over, and you may even think, 'What does this have to do with me?'

But the truth is, if you buy dairy products, have a child in public school, use a free health clinic for services or even drive on local cities and roads, a decision that's about to be made in Washington D.C. (or perhaps that will not be made, should no decision be reached) will most certainly affect you here in Rhode Island.

On Tuesday night Gov. Lincoln Chafee moderated a town hall meeting at the Johnston Senior Center .

After the forum was over, NBC 10 spoke with Chafee to find out what steps he thinks needs to be taken, in order to avoid major cuts in the Ocean State.

Chafee said, "All the wealthy are just doing just fine. They can afford to close these loopholes."

Chafee believes the economic problems here in Rhode Island would stand a much better chance of being fixed, faster if tax loopholes for the rich are sewn up once and for all in a vote by Congress on Capitol Hill.

"One of the problems we're having in this country, that we talked about here at the town hall meeting in Johnston, is disparity of wealth. So you'd think you'd want to close those loopholes that benefit the wealthy, so we wouldn't have this sequestration, and the loss of federal dollars to important programs. It's very tragic that right after an election we're right into the partisan bickering," the Governor said.

As it stands right now, the 'deficit reduction sequester' would enforce federal savings of $1.2 trillion dollars through the year 2021.

If approved, that means for 2013, and every year after, the nation would see $55 billion in cuts for the Department of Defense, and a $55 billion dollars in cuts for non-defense spending.

Gov. Chafee says if that doesn't change, it will mean devastating reductions to crucial programs from education to agriculture here in the Ocean State.

"It's not good. These are social programs that are important. The CAP agencies that provide the low income heating oil, that provide the Head Start programs, that provide community healthcare, all the good things that help people come up into the middle class which make America great, they're all going to be cut and be adversely affected by the decisions being made inside the beltway in Washington D.C."

Chafee says building, not cutting education, roads and bridges and workforce development is the only way to start growing and repairing the local economy.

That's why he's keeping a close eye on the 'deficit reduction sequester' situation on Capitol Hill.

When asked to predict what he thought would happen, 'in the end,' the governor said, "I'm pessimistic. I see just partisan gridlock. I just got back from Washington. And it's very unfortunate. The election is over! C'mon! Let's get on with it. Let's get this country going in the right direction."

And before you worry too much, you should know that there are a number of social programs that are exempt from the hatchet.

Exempt programs include Social Security, Medicaid and food stamps.