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White House says Evergreen State would lose $173.4 million if furloughs take effect for DOD civilians

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on Feb. 25, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
February 25, 2013 1:40 pm

The White House on Sunday released a big picture look at how forced budget cuts would impact the Evergreen State, filling in some details that have been elusive in different reports from civilian and defense agencies.

Compulsory furloughs for the state’s Defense Department civilian employees likely are going to take a significant bite out of their paychecks for the rest of the year unless Congress and President Obama can again avert the so-called budge sequester.

Civilian workers across the Armed Forces likely would take 22 unpaid days off between April and November if the cuts unfold. Washington State has about 29,000 of those workers, and they stand to lose $173.4 million in pay.

The Army this month released a report that showed it planned to furlough about 9,500 civilian employees in Washington State, reducing their pay by about $57 million.

Lewis-McChord’s 446th Reserve Airlift Wing released some specifics last week, reporting that 246 of its employees would take a hit. Most of them are Reserve technicians working on McChord Air Field’s C-17 fleet.

Pierce and Thurston counties stand to lose the most from Army and Air Force furloughs because Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 60,000 civilian and military employees mostly live in those communities.

Businesses around Washington State’s military installations are growing concerned about the furloughs, recognizing that reduced pay could mean reduced spending at local companies.

Tim Tweten, owner of Lakewood’s Burs Restaurant, last week spoke with reporters at an event organized by Democratic Rep. Denny Heck. Tweten said about 40 percent of his customers work at the base or are connected to it in some way.

He vented that lawmakers are creating instability in a fragile economy.

“That’s the responsibility of government, doing all they can to get people back to work and feeling good about their future, not pulling the fish out of their mouth just as they’re about to take a bite,” Tweten said, according to a story by TVW.

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