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UNDATED – (WCBI) – Area state and federal agencies that depend on federal funding to operate are making contingency plans as it appears more and more likely billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts will take effect March 1st.

Congress is not in session until next week and despite pressure from President Obama, it’s appearing less and less likely that the President and Congress will reach any kind of deal on the federal budget. If automatic budget cuts hit, we’ll feel them in Mississippi over the next seven months.

The Pentagon sent a letter to Congress Wednesday saying as many as 800 thousand civilian employees will be furloughed without pay one day a week for 22 weeks. Columbus Air Force Base has 472 civil service employees who could be impacted, although fire fighters and military police may be excluded from the furloughs.

Education could also take a hit. Head Start programs in the state could lose more than 9 million dollars. That could have an impact on the number of low-income children the preschool program could serve across the region, especially when services start again next fall.

Studies show that as many as 12 thousand jobs statewide could be affected by the sequester. That would be everything from defense to education and health care. Even research programs at Mississippi State and Ole Miss could face reductions. Agencies we talked to say they are making plans just in case, but they hope that if funding is reduced, it won’t last long. Back to you at the desk.

Agencies tell us they will announce detailed plans during the next few days on how they will adjust programs and services if the spending cuts happen.

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