DES MOINES (AP) — More than 1,500 civilian military employees in Iowa could be furloughed if the federal government fails to reach a deal this week to avert across-the-board spending cuts, a Pentagon spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Army Lt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department, said the federal government could save some $7.7 million by furloughing the 1,540 civilian employees in the state. Those furloughs would likely mean the employees would have one unpaid day off a week, which would represent a 20 percent pay cut, Robbins said.
Col. Greg Hapgood, spokesman for the Iowa National Guard, said that should the budget cuts go into effect, the Guard may try to save money by deferring spending on maintenance or travel.
“People are concerned about what the next half of fiscal year will bring. Readiness is what our organization is all about,” Hapgood said.
Gov. Terry Branstad said in an interview Tuesday that the possibility of defense cuts concerns him for the military presence and contractors in the state. Iowa has about 218 active-duty military personnel and more than 12,000 in the National Guard and Reserve, Robbins said.
Branstad noted that military contractor and private airlines parts manufacturer Rockwell Collins, based in Cedar Rapids, could be hurt financially if there are defense cuts.
Without action in Washington, $85 billion in cuts are set to take effect nationally March 1 through September. That could mean lost funding for the state National Guard, as well as other military functions in the state such as recruiters, engineers and support staff.
“I'm worried about national defense. It takes the biggest hit,” Branstad said.
Other budget areas that could be impacted in Iowa are education and workforce development, according to Department of Management Director David Roederer. He said agencies were still trying to figure out how the cuts would be handled.
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