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March 01. 2013 9:33PM

Shaheen, Ayotte feeling frustrated at sequester

MILFORD - U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., spent part of Friday in Milford touring the Cirtonics Corp. to get a better idea of how sequestration cuts may affect the people and companies in the Granite State.

Shaheen said that while all involved in Washington bear responsibility for the situation surrounding sequestration, the main focus should be on solving the problem.

"When we passed the Budget Control Act we put in place provisions as onerous as possible because we thought it would provide incentive for Congress to act," Shaheen said. "Nobody thought we were going to be irresponsible enough to not address the situation."

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayote, R-N.H., who was in the state Friday visiting the FIRST Robotics BAE Systems Granite State Regional at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, said, "I voted against the debt limit bill which created the sequester, and we wouldn't be in this situation if Congress did its job and passed a fiscally responsible budget on time. I offered an alternative savings package, which was denied a vote this week, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to replace the arbitrary sequester cuts with smarter alternative savings."

Shaheen added that she shared the frustration and disappointment of Granite Staters that Republicans and Democrats in Washington couldn't come together to compromise and avoid the cuts.

Geraldine Ferlins, CEO, president and founder of Cirtronics, said that the uncertainty of her company being hurt by sequestration has prompted her to initiate a hiring freeze.

"We need a long-term solution so we are not doing this every few months, and it has to be a balanced solution," Shaheen said.

Cirtronics, which assembles and places circuit boards into other companies' products, does not directly supply the government with products, Ferlins said, but it does work helping build products for companies that do.

As such, sequestration could end up hurting Cirtonics, Ferlins said.

"I am not going to take a position (on the cuts)," she said. "We don't know how this will affect us, our customers don't know, and I am not an economist, but there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty this has created."

Located in Milford for more than 20 years with more than 140 employees, Cirtronics is partially owned by Ferlins and partially owned by the employees, Ferlins said.

When discussing how the sequester cuts could hurt New Hampshire, Shaheen referenced the control tower at the Nashua Municipal Airport possibly being shut down next week.

However, according to an interactive website created by the Texas Tribune, which analyzes how sequester cuts would affect each state, New Hampshire is one of the states that will be hurt least by the cuts.

Losing the least amount of money of all 50 states for teacher and school funding, the Tribune also shows that New Hampshire will lose much less money than other states for children's vaccines, lose less money than most for military operations and is near the bottom of states in terms of furloughs.


bklein@newstote.com

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