By Kirk Carapezza
It’s down to just hours, now, until the sequestration – a massive reduction in federal spending – kicks in. The automatic cuts will have an effect on the daily lives of Vermonters, including civilian defense employees in the Vermont National Guard.
Gov. Peter Shumlin was at Camp Johnson in Colchester Thursday morning to outline those effects. He said that as soon as April, more than 500 civilian employees could face furloughs for at least one day a week, and the Guard’s ability to maintain equipment could weaken.
“This is not the way to get the job done,” Shumlin said. “No one is saying we don’t need to find a balance of cuts and revenue. But everyone is saying that this was not intended to ever happen and it seems to be happening. The unthinkable is happening. We’ve got to raise our voices across the board to stop it.”
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Incoming Adjutant General Steven Cray, who’s slated to take command tomorrow, said the greatest threat facing the Guard is the uncertainty about its budget.
“The longer these budget cuts drag on the more it will have an effect on our ability from a parts perspective, from a maintenance perspective, from a training perspective,” Cray said.
Cray told members of the Guard that while they can’t control budget negotiations in Washington, they’ll continue to recruit and train for natural disasters and foreign wars.