"Our bigger programs are exempt," McKown said.
For many other programs, they rely on funding from previously issued federal grants that will last for the next year or two, McKown said. Only when they seek to renew their federal funding after that will potential problems arise.
"Even if this does take effect Jan. 1, it would take a year or more before you would feel the effect for most state agencies," McKown said, adding that "I've not heard anything [from state agencies] like, `Oh we've got to shut the place down if sequestration takes place.'"
The across-the-board budget cuts are known as sequestration, and will be most felt in states where the economy is dependent on government spending and military dollars. Those states include neighboring Virginia and Maryland, which host federal agencies and military bases.
"They have all that Beltway stuff, and a lot of [federal employment] salaries," McKown said. "That's why they're going to get whacked."
Were sequestration to hit West Virginia a year or so from now, McKown said it would appear similar to the 7.5 percent cuts that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has ordered to most state agencies for the portion of the upcoming budget that relies on general revenue taxes. But these federal cuts could be painful, McKown added.
Stressing that these cuts were far from certain, McKown estimated that West Virginia might lose $6 million for special education and $7 million for aiding low-income public schools.
"I know a lot of teachers are paid with that money," McKown said, referring to the latter figure.