Looming federal spending cuts could hit SC hard

"It really does seem like a washington game arguing about who idea was this and why is it going to happen. At the end of the day were talking about real people," said Tompkins.

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- March 1 is almost here, and automatic federal spending cuts could hit South Carolina hard.

According to the White House the Palmetto State would see less federal funding for teachers, the military, law enforcement and public health.

USC political scientist Mark Tompkins says "They're not huge cuts, but they're cuts; and they're cuts in area that people don't want to be cut".

This year, secondary schools would lose nearly $12.5 million putting roughly 170 teachers and aide jobs at risk.

The state would also lose an additional $8.6 million that funds special education teachers.

South Carolina's military would also take a hit; thousands of civilian workers would be furloughed.

The Army could lose $62 million for base operations and the Air Force nearly $20 million.

Tompkins says while these cuts will impact the state's struggling economy, people are wondering how it will affect them.

"People are saying, 'Why are we doing this?' It looks like a game being played in Washington that's hurting people back home," added Tompkins..

Orangeburg Sen.Brad Hutto says he believes congress will make a deadline deal.

"There are going to be effects on individual South Carolinians' lives that could be avoided, and I think that's the big take away; that this could all be avoided if congress would do their job," said Sen. Brad Hutto.

Hutto says if these cuts take effect, state lawmakers can help fill the holes left by the cuts in federal money with state dollars.

"We could reprioritize within the state budget but again it's not like we're sitting on excess dollars, but that's our job to prioritize things and public education is one of our highest priorities," added Hutto.

Senate democrats in Washington plan to vote on a measure this week to replace the cuts for another year, but with $85 billion at stake, there is still no deal in sight.

"It really does seem like a Washington game arguing about who's idea was this and why is it going to happen. At the end of the day, were talking about real people," said Tompkins.