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Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
Email: mrodriguez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mrodriguezwwl

NEW ORLEANS -- As the nation's lawmakers inch closer to the sequester deadline of March 1, Louisiana could be facing cuts made to education, food inspection and the military.

Some of the larger cuts will fall to education, including millions of dollars appropriated for the most vulnerable of students.

'Children with severe cognitive impairments, children with emotional disabilities, children with autism -- they have very significant needs,' said Ronald Lospennato of the New Orleans-based Advocacy Center, a disability rights watchdog.

According to a report released by the White House, the sequester will cost Louisiana $15.8 million for primary and secondary education. On top of that, it would lead to an additional nearly $10 million in cuts to education for children with disabilities.

'Education here is pretty thin to begin with and it can really not afford to suffer any more cuts,' Lospennato said.

Education isn't the only budget that could be hit. So could the one for the Department of Agriculture, which oversees food inspections.

'If this is not worked out and if it doesn't proceed in an orderly fashion, we could have a disruption in the food market,' said Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain.

Starting in September, food inspectors could be hit with a two-week furlough because of the sequester cuts. Without inspections, meat, poultry and eggs, for example, do not get to the market.

'What that will mean for the consumer is lack of availability and higher prices,' Strain said.

Strain said state inspectors may be able to pick up some of the slack, but they can only do so much.

The largest cuts from the sequester would affect the military. About 7,000 civilian employees with the Department of Defense would be furloughed in Louisiana, reducing their pay by nearly $36 million.

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