Defense furloughs could have economic ripple effect - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Defense furloughs could have economic ripple effect


The effects of federal budget cuts hit home for thousands of federal employees. Monday marked the first day of furloughs for civilian employees of the Department of Defense.

That includes about 1,900 employees at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. Another 2,200 are affected at Fort Rucker in Southeast Alabama.

Employees are required to take 11 furlough days through September 30th, meaning the employees would lose about 20% of their pay.

"That's going to have a significant impact on those families in terms of their ability to just pay their bills and other kinds of things," said Joe Greene, Vice-President of Military and Governmental Affairs for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. "It's probably a $10-$15 million dollar impact to the community in terms of the loss of economic buying power."

Greene is among those hoping the number of furlough days can be reduced, if Congress and President Barack Obama can reach an agreement. Rep. Martha Roby's district covers both Maxwell and Fort Rucker.

"These furloughs are going to make life difficult for many families in the River Region and the Wiregrass," Rep. Roby said in a statement to WSFA 12 News. "I voted against sequestration because I believe there is a smarter way to reduce government spending than slashing the defense budget and hurting military families. President Obama, who originally proposed the sequestration plan, is trying to use the cuts as an opportunity to raise taxes even more. It is unconscionable that our Commander-in-Chief would use the military as leverage in an ideological crusade for higher taxes. We don't need higher taxes. We need smarter cuts."

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has proposed raising the defense budget to over the $500 billion mark for the 2014 fiscal year.

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