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Furloughs coming for Florida National Guard soldiers

7:00 PM, Mar 20, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The national sequester budget cuts will force Florida National Guard soldiers to be furloughed soon and the Guard won't be able to respond as effectively to wildfire and hurricane season this year, according to the commander of the National Guard Major General Emmett Titshaw.

He describes it as "lots of bad news" for Florida.

The National Guard will face up to $54 million in budget cuts, resulting in furloughs for nearly 1,000 soldiers one day per pay period. That will translate into a 20 percent pay cut for them.

The cuts will also delay seven projects at Jacksonville's 125th Fighter Wing and postpone equipment and aircraft maintenance statewide.

Titshaw said thousands of pieces of equipment will remain idle because the Guard won't have technicians to work on it.

"Over 6,600 pieces of equipment are at Camp Blanding to be reset from the war. That equipment is sitting there standing still because we're not going to have the people to reset it. That will impact us during the upcoming wildfire and hurricane season and our ability to respond promptly to the citizens of Florida."

Titshaw said notices of furlough are scheduled to go out on Thursday.

"Following a seven-day appeal cycle, official notices of furlough will go out and the first furloughs will start occurring the last week of April. As I said, 993 of our Florida National Guardsmen will be furloughed one day per pay period, which will result in a 20 percent pay cut for them the rest of this fiscal year through September 30."

General Titshaw also predicts significant economic consequences from sequestration. He says Florida's defense industry will lose about $7 billion in federal funding this year.

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