Mammoth Cave National Park is preparing to continue current budget cuts into the next fiscal year. The popular southern Kentucky attraction has let many full-time and seasonal positions go unfilled due to the cuts.

Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead tells WKU Public Radio the government has informed all national parks to not expect any relief from the hit they took earlier this year from the sequestration.

"We are currently being told to plan to carry forward the cuts that we took this year, so as we start our budget effort we will plan on continuing that five-percent reduction in our budget," said Craighead. "We haven't been given any additional information regarding next year's budget."

Mammoth Cave has left several full-time positions go unfilled as part of their budget reduction, including the park electrician. Superintendent Craighead says the park is relying more on volunteer help than it normally would, and is asking for volunteers to help the park maintain its many hiking trails.

Two western Kentucky airports will close their air traffic control facilities in April after the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday mandated the shutdowns because of budget cuts.

Pilots flying into and out of Owensboro-Daviess County Airport in Owensboro and Barkley Regional Airport in Paducah will be responsible for keeping proper distance from each other while in the air and for their own safety during takeoffs and landings.

During bad weather, the FAA tower in Memphis, Tenn., will monitor the airspace around Paducah. The FAA tower in Evansville, Ind., about 34 miles away, will monitor Owensboro's airspace in rough weather.

The two control towers were among 149 hit with closure by the FAA, which is being forced to trim $637 million for the rest of the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. Both the Owensboro and Paducah airports host commercial commuter airlines.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the $85 billion in broad-based federal spending cuts due to take effect on Friday "modest" and downplayed risks that the reductions would damage the nation's economy.

The Kentucky Republican's outlook on the potential ripple effects the cuts might have on a still-fragile economy differed starkly from officials in President Barack Obama's administration, who warned of dire consequences.

"This is a quite modest reduction," McConnell told reporters at Louisville's airport. "We ought to be doing a lot more than this."

The White House recently put out a news release showing that a cross-section of Kentuckians would feel the budget cuts.

Schools in western Kentucky have started to consider options if federal funding cuts are implemented next Friday.

If Congress doesn't move to stop the cuts scheduled to take place on March 1, nearly $3 billion in education funding would be cut.

Daviess County Superintendent Owen Saylor told the Messenger-Inquirer that the district is trying to prepare just in case.

"Worst case, we're looking at $535,000 in lost funding for our district alone," Saylor said. "We don't want to scare anyone. We don't like giving bad news, but if nothing changes, we're like everyone else. Eventually you have to cut jobs."

About 7,000 civilian workers at Fort Knox will be affected if federal cuts in defense spending take effect next Friday.

The News-Enterprise reports the workers would be furloughed one day each week for up to 22 weeks and lose about 20 percent of their pay.

Derek Avey, a civilian Fort Knox Garrison employee, says his family has made plans just in case.

"We'll make car payments and mortgage payments and those things, but going out to eat or catching a movie we may not do as often as we used to," the Elizabethtown resident said.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul believes the sequester and its $85 billion in spending cuts present a great political opportunity for Republicans. In an interview with WKU Public Radio Tuesday, Sen. Paul said as the March 1 deadline nears, more and more members of the GOP are starting to believe the sequester may be their best bet for getting significant spending cuts to become reality

According to Sen. Paul, Republicans "have the President where we want him. These spending cuts will occur automatically, without a Presidential signature, and without the Democrats in the Senate voting for it"

WKU Public Radio spoke with Sen. Paul about sequester politics, gun control, and America's appetite for a libertarian presidential candidate.

Here are some excerpts from our interview: