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While federal lawmakers wondered how much a proposed spending freeze would really help the projected $1.35-trillion federal deficit, in Michigan, local agencies and officials began worrying about the potential loss of dollars.

“In today’s economy, there are no easy choices,” said Bill Shreck, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation, which receives nearly $1 billion from the federal government for projects. “We could have a few hundred projects knocked off our five-year plan.”

The proposed freeze on federal spending, which President Barack Obama will talk about in his State of the Union address tonight, is a good first step, but it’s not enough, some Michigan members of Congress said Tuesday.

“I would hope he would go a little farther,” said U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Livonia.

Things like a line-item veto, prohibiting the Senate from raising the debt ceiling and an end to “bringing multibillion spending proposals (like health care reform) to Congress” also would help, he said.

U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, said he would hope that the White House would expand the departments subject to the freeze and adopt a pay-go strategy, requiring the government to have revenues available before it spent on programs.

Holding their breath

Meanwhile, local charity and government leaders were holding their breath, waiting to hear what Obama will say tonight about how a proposed federal freeze on spending might affect them.

For HAVEN, a Pontiac-based shelter and counseling center for victims of domestic abuse, a freeze or cut in funding would contribute to a triple whammy to its budget.

Beth Morrison, president of HAVEN, said federal funds account for about one-third of her $3-million budget, which already is suffering from declines in charitable and corporate donations.

HAVEN has instituted a number of cost-cutting measures, including layoffs, furloughs, benefit reductions and occasionally reducing the shelter’s capacity of 45 residents because of budget constraints.

source: www.freep.com

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