McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

March 5, 2013

Furloughs set to begin at McAAP

McALESTER — Now that the federal sequestration budget cuts have gone into effect as of Friday, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant employees are expected to start getting letters on Monday telling them to get ready for furloughs.

“The employees know there’s a recommendation we will be furloughed one day a week,” said McAAP spokesman Kevin Jackson.

He said McAAP employees would be notified after the Friday deadline had passed. However, since most employees are off work Fridays, the letters were expected to go out on Monday unless Congress and the White House reached an agreement over the weekend to change the situation.

If furloughs are ordered as expected, will they go into effect immediately? “I believe it would probably be in April,” Jackson said. That leaves open the possibility that the furloughs could be averted if Congress and the president act to change things during that time frame.

Sequestration refers to the approximately $85 billion in budget and domestic spending required by the end of the current federal fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2013, as well as the $1.2 trillion in cuts required over a 10-year period.

Meanwhile, District 2 U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville, says the situation could have been different if the two political parties would have worked together.

“Today marks the beginning of the across-the-board spending cuts called the sequester,” Mullin said in a statement released Friday. “It is unfortunate that in Washington, nobody can agree to make the spending cuts needed to replace the sequester.”

Mullin also spoke with the News-Capital by phone about how he believes the cuts required by sequestration could have been found in other areas. He said he’s seen reports that the federal government made $115 billion in improper payments in 2011, the latest year for which the numbers were available.

“The federal government made $115 billion in improper payments or benefits they were not entitled to,” Mullin said. Yet, there’s been no attempt to recover the money, he added. “That is more than sequestration itself, and no one’s talking about it,” Mullin said.

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