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How Will Automatic Budget Cuts Affect Chicago?

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Unless a deal is reached by Friday, the nation faces massive automatic government spending cuts.

It’s called sequestration, and it means $85 billion in across-the-board cuts to government agencies and programs.

As CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey reports, Chicago will feel the impact.

In Illinois alone, education funding will be cut, meaning fewer teacher aides in classrooms. Children would be turned away from Head Start, while older students would be denied work-study jobs.

Furloughs would be forced on most government employees, meaning things like those airport security lines will get longer.

President Obama says the cuts will change our daily lives, but CBS 2 financial expert Jill Schlesinger said, on an economic impact scale of 1 to 10, the so-called sequester rates about a ‘5’.

“The debt ceiling was more like a 9 and then go back to the fiscal cliff–the fiscal slope that’s about a 7,” she said. “The sequester is more like a 5, so it’s not the worst case. It can be absorbed into the economy.”

And it seems people are all over the map on how they’re preparing.

Jean Olsen was asked if she was nervous about how the cuts will affect her life.

“No,” she said, simply.

Alma Williams said: “Do the regular routine. We’re not scared at all.”

Salesman Joey Yokubaitis had a different view: “It’s definitely going to hit my industry hard. So I’m really pulling back as far as my spending because who knows I may end up having to dip into my 401k.”

In Washington, Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley told WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore that he doesn’t see any signs of lawmakers avoiding sequestration.

While the sequester takes effect on Friday, government officials have to give workers a 30-day notice for furloughs. That means, in terms of government services, we won’t start feeling the effects until April.