Automatic federal budget cuts set to start in January would not directly impact federal transportation funding that is distributed to Southern Arizona, but other cuts could still have an impact, local transportation officials say.

The automatic cuts, called sequestration, are a result of failed negotiations by the congressional "super committee" last year. Because the group failed to make budget cuts, automatic reductions will go into effect unless Congress makes a change before year's end.

The federal transportation budget is protected from the cuts, says John Liosatos, transportation planning director at the Pima Association of Governments.

PAG is the regional governmental entity that distributes federal transportation funding to local governments. including Pima County, the cities of Tucson and South Tucson, the towns of Oro Valley, Marana and Sahuarita, and the tribal governments in the county.

Liosatos says cuts to other services, such as health care or education, could indirectly affect transportation funding. In the past, the Legislature has taken funding from local transportation departments to fill budget gaps in other areas.

Hear Liosatos discuss the situation, along with county Transportation Director Priscilla Cornelio contemplating how to handle transportation funding cuts: