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Illinois National Guard Braces For Looming Cuts
Our military is trained to face combat. But now they are finding themselves in a different kind of battle--a budget battle.
Automatic spending cuts to the Department of Defense could affect the Illinois National Guard. Worst case scenario, 70 employees will be laid off, 40 right here in Springfield. Plus, more than 1,000 guard employees could be required to take furlough days, cutting a big chunk out of their salary.
“This is a field maintenance shop and you have operator maintenance," Illinois National Guard Captain Dutch Grove said, showing our reporter around his shop.
"The operator of this truck may check the oil and replace the air filter."
You might call them military mechanics.
“As a permanent technician, you know, I am possibly one position that could be affected by this, so it is stressful on families," Grove said.
March 1 is the latest looming deadline the government is having to battle.
$85 billion in automatic cuts to federal programs will take effect unless something is done.
“I'm disappointed that our National Guard, our local National Guard units,
are even in this position," Republican Congressman Rodney Davis, who represents Illinois’ 13th
district, said. "The fact of the matter is this is bad policy and it
was bad policy when it was adopted years ago."
Davis said time is running out and while both parties are to blame, it is the entire country that will pay.
“Because of a lack of Democrats and Republicans and the ability to
sit down and forge good common sense solutions, sequestration is going to kick
in and could have some devastating effects on different sectors in our society,"
Not just the military, but every individual they interact with.
“The salaries and wages is a little more than $526 million," Grove said. "Should sequestration happen that would drop by $52.5 million. So essentially you could say that's $52.5 million that these employees are getting paid. That, in turn, they use that money to purchase things from the local economy and bring in to the local economy."
Even if Congress and President Barack Obama come to an agreement, officials say it will likely still include budget cuts.
If that happens, the Illinois National Guard says they will have to re-prioritize resources and re-work who does what job.