Welcome to life in the sequestration age, where folks are sent home from work and government services are reduced because Congress and the president couldn't figure out a reasonable way to reduce spending.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday that the onset of sequestration — $85 billion in cuts this year, $1.2 trillion over the next decade — will mean closing 149 air traffic control towers that are operated by contractors. Four of those towers are in Oklahoma: Wiley Post Airport in Oklahoma City, OU's Westheimer Airport in Norman, Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport and Stillwater Regional Airport.
The closings are scheduled to begin in April. The FAA says it must cut $637 million as a result of sequestration; closing towers is one way to get to that number. U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, had suggested ways for the agency to cut millions in non-priority spending, but to no avail.
State officials have been bracing for sequestration's effects. They've said that Oklahoma could lose $137 million this year in direct federal funding as a result of the cuts, including $50 million for education and about $40 million for health and human services.