Civilian Employees At McConnell Face Furloughs Amid Budget Cuts

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Friday, March 1, 2013

President Barack Obama and republicans are blaming each other for the automatic spending cuts due to kick in at midnight.

This morning, Obama told reporters, “It’s happening because of a choice that republicans in Congress have made.” Republicans said the president insisted that increased taxes be part of the resolution.

Kansas Senator Jerry Moran told KAKE News the defense department is taking an extraordinary hit. The ones out at McConnell Air Force Base feeling the pressure are civilian employees facing possible furloughs.

Civilians, including those who are also reservists and wear the uniform, face the likelihood of losing one day of work per week due to the furloughs.

“People think about how it will affect their budget, how it's going to affect what they can afford,” said USAF Reserves Public Affairs Officer Lt. Zach Anderson.

Lt. Anderson is chief of public affairs for the 931st refueling group at McConnell. He’s in the reserves and is a civilian employee on the Wichita base.

“You know, my wife and I took a long look at our budget last night and you look at things you might have to cut out,” he said.

His family isn’t alone in that. A McConnell base spokesman says there are no measures specifically targeting the enlisted workforce. However, we’re told the cuts will have significant effect on the 537 civilians on base facing furloughs.

The Air Force is prioritizing missions and a base spokesman says McConnell will be ready for any mission called upon. Flying hours could be reduced as much as 18 percent. Lt. Anderson says training would be impacted.

“It definitely affects our ability to do training,” he said. “You're talking about the full-time employees of the reserves who are really kind of the continuity. We're the people who train our traditional reservists when they come in, so if we have to miss a day per week then that's training that doesn't get done.”

Lt. Anderson says if no deal is reached, he is expecting furloughs to begin in late April.

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