Sequestration could mean furlough days

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With the  March 1 sequestration means the loss of jobs and furlough days for many civilian workers within the Department of Defense.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta notified congress on Feb. 20 that sequestration could mean furlough days for the civilian workforce. Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Jessica Wright stated on the Department of Defense website, www.defense.gov, that furloughs would mean civilians would see a 20 percent decrease in their pay between April and November.

For the Air Force alone this could impact 180,000 civilian workers resulting in 22 working furlough days and the loss of 31.5 million man hours of productivity according to an article at www.af.mil.

This would have a huge impact on the United States Air Force Academy, Schriever Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base and Fort Carson. El Paso County is home to four of the five military installations in Colorado.

“We don't know how this is going to unfold,” John VanWinkle, spokesperson for the academy said.

VanWinkle said that the academy has approximately 1,500 appropriated fund civilian employees that could be affected by the furloughs. Of those 1,500 at least 300 are civilian academic instructors which make up 37 percent of the academy's instructor force.

VanWinkle said they would just have to wait and see what happens. Sequestration doesn't just affect the DOD. Several other government programs will be hit with cuts.

What is sequestration?

It is automatic cuts to the federal budget. According to the Budget Control Act of 2011 discretionary spending must be cut over a 10-year period. Congress put in the act that if a deal wasn't reached to cut $1.5 trillion over a 10-year period then automatic across the board cuts in government spending would be made. This is known as sequester.

The sequester was originally supposed to go into effect on Jan. 1, however because of the American Taxpayer Relief Act that was passed the budget cuts were pushed back to March 1. Approximately $85 million will be cut if Congress cannot come to an agreement on a budget. More than $42 billion of those cuts would be to defense.

Other programs that would see cuts include: NASA, FEMA, Head Start, FBI, federal prison system, immigration enforcement, the Centers for Disease Control, public housing, FDA, special education, energy department, National Science Foundation, Library of Congress and the Patent and Trademark office. Medicaid, Social Security and the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families are exempt from sequester.

County could see effects of sequestration

 
Sequestration could be a huge blow to El Paso County.
The $85 million budget cuts each year for the next 10 years means that Colorado can expect a 10 percent across the board cuts in federal defense funds according to a presentation given by El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn on Feb. 8 during the State of the Chamber breakfast.
El Paso County is home to four of the five military installations in Colorado and the budget cuts not only affect the Department of Defense civilian workforce but the whole community as well. Glenn told chamber members that in 2011 the military bases provided a $5.89 billion impact to the region.
According to his presentation the military generates 25-30 percent of the county's gross metropolitan product. The United States Air Force Academy released its economic impact analysis last year and for the fiscal year 2011 the economic impact to the community was more than $999 million. However with the federal cuts the county can expect a negative impact of $4.71 billion annually.
Sequestration would mean furlough days for civilian workers of the DOD and that means decreased pay.
Cuts to the military will undoubtedly trickle down to the community. Glenn said that businesses outside the military installations would be directly impacted. On the Department of Defense website, www.defense.gov, Jessica Wright, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, stated that families of civilian workers will have to make tough financial decisions.
“Loss of pay won't only be felt by each employee but it will be felt in the business communities which they serve, where there kids go to school and the neighborhoods where they live in,” Wright said.
More information about sequestration and the impact to the county will be discussed at a March town hall meeting that Glenn is hosting.