Some 1,200 Alabama National Guard soldiers and airmen will lose 20 percent of their pay over the next three months due to furloughs brought about by sequestration cutbacks.
According to AP reports, the National Guard included full-time military technicians to the furlough list in May, shortly after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced 11 days of furlough for civilian DOD workers. The furloughs, which begin July 8, will last through the end of the fiscal year as part of the Pentagon's efforts to cut $37 billion from its budget this year.
Capt. Andrew Richardson, Public Affairs Specialists with the Alabama National Guard, said the furloughs translate to $2.42 million in lost wages in the state.
"The economic impact of furloughing Alabama National Guard federal employees will adversely affect our entire state," he said. "This will affect not only state income taxes, but sales taxes, and, most importantly, family budgets in more than 1,000 Alabama households. All services and facilities will be affected to some degree, to include reduced services, longer wait times, and fewer personnel available to provide necessary services."
The furloughs include full-time military technicians, dual-rolled uniformed civilian workers who perform a range of duties such as repairing helicopters and handling pay and personnel matters. According to National Guard statistics, there are some 53,000 military technicians nationwide, but it's not yet clear how many of those will be furloughed.
The economic impact of furloughing Alabama National Guard federal employees will adversely affect our entire state.
Richardson said guard officials are working to mitigate the effects of the furloughs and to minimize the impact to readiness, but echoed Pentagon warnings that all cuts come with a cost.
"Our soldiers and airmen will continue to meet emerging challenges and ensure the security of our state, nation and communities. Enduring additional cuts will impact readiness and compromise the ability of an already lean force to respond to crises... affecting Alabama lives, property and critical infrastructure."
Bill before Congress to exempt military technicians from furlough
In March, Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., the only enlisted member of the National Guard serving in Congress, introduced an amendment to the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act that would provide for military technicians under military personnel accounts, exempting them from furloughs.
"Our nation's military technicians are vital in maintaining our military readiness at home and abroad. Under sequestration they are the only uniformed military personnel who could face the threat of being furloughed. While we must continue working to replace the devastating sequester cuts for all affected, this legislation will ensure that our hardworking military technicians are protected from possible furloughs and pay cuts," Palazzo said in a written statement after the amendment was proposed.
The amendment has 41 co-sponsors, none from Alabama. The bill is currently in committee.