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Oklahoma's civilian payroll could lose $129.3M with potential military furlough, Pentagon says

Defense Department notifies Congress and 800,000 civilian workers on Wednesday that furloughs could be necessary to absorb spending cuts set to go into effect next week. Furloughs would likely begin in late April, officials say.
by Chris Casteel Published: February 20, 2013

Figures released by the Defense Department on Wednesday show Oklahoma would rank 12th among the states and the District of Columbia, with a potential payroll hit of $129.3 million. The department's civilian payroll in Oklahoma last year was $1.5 billion.

President Barack Obama has called on Congress to replace the cuts with new tax revenue and more targeted cuts, but congressional Republicans have said they won't approve higher taxes.

Effects on agencies

Though cuts to the military have received most of the attention, most federal departments and agencies will be affected and some may also use furloughs to absorb the cuts.

Congress is in recess this week and will have only four days next week to address the cuts before they go into effect. However, Hale said the required notification period will give lawmakers more time to replace the cuts before the furloughs start.

J. David Cox, national president of the American Federal of Government Employees, said the furloughs would be a “tremendous” economic hit.

“An employee in the middle of the pay scale, earning about $50,000 a year, takes home between $500 and $600 a week after subtracting health insurance, retirement and taxes,” Cox said. “Taking away one day's pay every week could mean the difference between covering the mortgage and putting food on the table.”

Wright, Defense undersecretary, said the effect of the furloughs would reverberate beyond the civilians whose pay is cut.

“The first, the second, and the third order of effect on sequestration will be felt in the local commands and will be felt in the local communities all over the United States and, clearly, all over the globe,” she said.

“This is not a Beltway phenomenon. More than 80 percent of our civilians work outside of the D.C. metro area. They live and work in every state of the union.”

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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