CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If the federal budget goes off the "fiscal cliff" on Jan. 2, the impact on state agencies would be serious, but not catastrophic, the state Budget Office director said Tuesday.
If Congress and the White House cannot reach a budget agreement by the end of the year, automatic cuts in federal funding to the states -- a process known as sequestration -- will begin to go into effect.
State Budget Director Mike McKown said that, while the cuts would vary from agency to agency, most would see their overall budgets reduced by 6 to 8 percent. The cuts would not come immediately.
"In nice round figures, if it goes through, it will be in the 6 to 8 percent range," McKown said of budget cuts for state agencies.
He noted that most federal grants are awarded in two-year cycles, so some agencies would not begin to feel the impact of sequestration until 2014.
"Some cuts would be in the next fiscal year, while most are a year or two away," he said.
Federal funding accounts for nearly 19 percent of the state's total annual operating budget, but McKown said sequestration applies to federal discretionary funds, and two major sources of federal funding, for Medicaid and for Highways and Transportation, would not be cut.
Nationally, sequestration would result in federal funding cuts of $110 billion in the 2013 budget year alone.
Funding cuts to state agencies would be painful, McKown said.
"But it's not catastrophic," he said. "Each program would have to be analyzed individually."
According to state Budget Office figures, about 4,700 of the approximately 40,000 full-time positions in state government are federally funded, with about 2,400 of those positions in the Department of Health and Human Resources.