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Cuts could pummel N.M. jobs

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Federal agencies unsure how much they can spend this year have canceled enough business over the past few months to cut annual revenue at Fiore Industries from $10 million to $5 million and force the company to shed half of its workforce, CEO Bill Miera said Monday.

Fiore, which sells high-technology services and products to the national laboratories, aircraft manufacturers and other customers, hosted U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., at a news conference where she urged Congress to cancel $85 billion in automatic federal spending cuts over seven months beginning March 1, cuts that she said would cost New Mexico jobs.

“Contracts are not going to be renewed, positions are being cut, more New Mexicans will be unemployed,” Grisham said. The effect on New Mexico’s economy will be “crippling.”

Miera said Fiore had hired staff to fulfill federal contracts, only to let them go months later when federal agencies canceled work over concern the programs won’t be funded. Fiore also reduced its own purchases from local suppliers, Miera said.

Grisham said most members of Congress agree spending must be reduced, especially on health care, but that the automatic cuts, known as sequestration, “is like taking a meat cleaver to the budget.” Sequestration will affect not only defense and energy spending, but spending on education, nutrition, environment and virtually every other federal program, she said.

“I really don’t think this is rocket science,” Grisham said. “It’s a matter of coming up with a fair approach to revenue and a fair approach to spending.”

Over 10 years sequestration is designed to cut federal spending $1.2 trillion. Grisham said a George Mason University study found that could reduce employment in New Mexico by 28,000 jobs. A University of New Mexico study concluded 20,000 jobs would be lost.

Sequestration, enacted by Congress in 2011, was supposed to occur Jan. 1 only if lawmakers could not reach a bipartisan budget deal. No deal was reached, but Congress extended the deadline two months so negotiations could continue.
— This article appeared on page B1 of the Albuquerque Journal