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Federal Furloughs May Threaten Wildfire Response

GUESTS

Frank Hewitt is a founder of the San Diego Chapter of the National Defense Industry Association which represents the interests of the defense industry.

California National Guard Captain Will Martin

Jason is a civilian employee who does medical research for the Department of Defense, under the federal furlough his pay will be cut 20 percent over the next 11 weeks. He's asked KPBS not to use his last name because he is not authorized to speak publicly about the federal furlough.

Transcript

Thousands of civilian military workers will see their paychecks shrink by 20 percent for the next three months. Federal furloughs start this week.

It's the result of sequestration, the across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect this year after congress failed to reach an agreement on the debt limit.

The Department of Defense needs to cut $85 billion this fiscal year under sequestration. Federal furloughs are expected to save that department $1.8 billion this year.

Some civilian military employees say the furlough is affecting their ability to pay the bills.

Jason is a civilian Department of Defense employee doing medical research in San Diego. He's asked KPBS not to use his last name because he is not authorized to speak publicly about the federal furlough. He says he had to renegotiate his car loan and credit card payment because of the furlough.

California National Guard Captain Will Martin says it's not just the National Guard employees who will be affected by the furlough.

He says the trickle down effect on all Californians is the Guards' ability to respond to wildfires and other emergencies including conducting search and rescues .

Frank Hewitt is a founder of the San Diego Chapter of the National Defense Industry Association, which represents the interests of the defense industry.

He says the military will also feel an impact from the furlough from the lack of civil service workers.

Hewitt says compacting sequestration cuts over a shorter period of time this year is having a greater impact.

"This is a 10-year event," Hewitt says. "In 2014 the budgets will be cut for 12 months. How they are going to do it remains to be seen," He says.

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