Barring Congressional action, the automatic federal budget cuts known as “the sequester” are coming Friday.
If the sequester is an ax, it might be coming down hardest in Pennsylvania on the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, which oversees the state’s National Guard.
So Adjutant General Wesley Craig is trying to get creative in order to avoid sending 17-hundred technicians of the Pennsylvania National Guard on a forced, unpaid, once-a-week furlough starting in April.
“Over a period of a month or two, I’d probably start to see an increasing amount of helicopters that would not be ready, and also fixed wing aircraft. Never done anything like this before so I don’t have any real true data but you can guarantee that it would start to degrade that fleet,” said Craig.
To avoid that, Craig says he’ll try a hiring freeze.
Even if the solution works, furloughs will still be required at a wing of the Air National Guard based at Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, Dauphin County.
He adds unless Congress acts to stop “the sequester,” furloughs would still be in effect for the Deplartment of Defense civilian employees at the state’s five military depots and the Army War College in Carlisle, Cumberland County.
Craig says if he can’t avoid furloughs of technicians in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and Air Guard, the impact will be on equipment – and it wouldn’t take long to notice.
The White House estimates the sequester will require roughly 26-thousand civilian Department of Defense employees to take one day off, unpaid, weekly — bringing down gross pay by about 150 million dollars.
Craig says those furloughs could start in April and continue through September.