Economy
2:25 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Sixty Jobs To Be Cut At State Homes For Disabled Veterans

The head of the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs says budget cuts will mean about 60 layoffs, but a decision at the national level could lead to more.

Major General Wesley Craig says his agency can deal with the roughly $6 million funding cut proposed by Governor Tom Corbett. But, he says the U.S. Air Force is looking to downsize a National Guard air refueling wing in Pittsburgh by 25 percent and close another air wing entirely.

"We think it's a dumb idea," said Craig. "The reason is primarily because we are the most cost effective part of the national defense. The air guard gets about seven to eight percent of the budget, provides 30 to 40 percent of the airplanes flown by the U.S. Air Force."

There are up to 1,200 airmen at the air wing the U.S. Air Force wants to close, and Craig said about 400 of those are full-time. He said Governor Corbett is lobbying governors nationwide to oppose the move.

Under Corbett's spending plan, the state Department of Military and Veteran's Affairs would need to cut about 60 jobs from its six homes for disabled and chronically-ill veterans and their spouses. Craig said the cuts would have been worse if it weren't for steps taken last year.

"By a reduction of overtime, better business practices, saving money on medications, and then taking a look at staffing levels, we were able to come up with, without any reductions in staff this year, save six million dollars," Craig said.

Craig said his agency will try to place laid-off workers in other state jobs.

He said he's also pushing for a speedy sale of the Scotland School for Veterans' Children in Franklin County, which, though closed, remains on the state rolls and costs over $1 million a year to maintain.