Sequester cuts start today

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Lawmakers must come to an agreement today before billions of dollars are automatically cut off from the federal government.

The White House calls the proposed cuts "Cinderella cuts" because they will be put off as close to midnight Friday as possible.

And with the deadline for the $85-billion cut looming, state agencies are still in the dark about how the cuts would affect them specifically.

Many agencies that receive funding say they're still not sure of how soon they will see a reduction, how much money they would lose and how they would handle the cuts.

We do know already of furloughs to government employees, and we know that includes those whose jobs are to protect you.  And we know the federal courts are among those facing five-to-eight-percent cuts across the board.

A U.S. District Judge told Eyewitness News that, unlike other agencies, they have no discretionary spending to cut. That means salaries could be cut. Public defenders may not get paid for their work. Jurors would not get paid. And offenders released from prison would have no supervision.

Prosecutors are going to be furloughed within a month. As a result, civil and criminal cases could be delayed.

And that's a concern for U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett, who said, "I can't speak for other departments, but it's unnerviing as U.S. Attorney to know I won't have a full complement of criminal prosecutors doing the people's business, putting scofflaws and other forms of criminal activity, and those who engage in it, behind bars."

The longer the cuts are in effect, the bigger the impact.

The defense contractors at places like the Finance Center in Lawrence are also facing furloughs of one day without pay every two weeks.

Some 150 special needs teachers in Indiana could lose their jobs.

And funding for medical research and money raised at events like the now-canceled Indianapolis Air Show, all have an impact on the economy.

"The cuts will definitely hurt the economy in the short term," said University of Indianapolis economist Matt Will. "My estimate is it will be one-half percent of a GDP drop as a result of this. But the economy probably was going to grow more than that, anyway, so it doesn't look like it's going to cause a recession.  But we will feel a little bit of pain."

While President Obama and key lawmakers are still debating, agencies are keeping close tabs, but not quite sure exactly how they'll be affected.