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Monday, August 19, 2013 - 1:00am

Defense Furloughs Cost Ga. $55 Mil.

Six weeks of furloughs for civilian Defense Department employees have cost Georgia $55 million in lost income.

That figure was calculated by the Federal-Postal Coalition, a group that’s lobbying for the reversal of sequestration, and is based on the Pentagon’s own estimates when they were originally talking about 22 furlough days per week for all employees. That would have cost Georgia more than $200 million.

Even though the financial impact on individuals was not as deep as expected there were other consequences, said Meghan Walsh, legislative director of the National Association of Government Employees, a coalition member.

"[Furloughed employees] were also concerned about what taking these six days off would mean for the men and women who are serving our country in uniform, that they’re supporting through these jobs," Walsh said.

Georgia lost more money due to the furloughs than all other states except four: California, Maryland, Texas, and Virginia. The Federal-Postal Coalition is urging lawmakers to reverse or alter automatic federal budget cuts when they return to Washington in September.

"We’ve looked at various elements in the budget proposals that have already been put on the table, the Senate Democrats’ proposal and the House Republicans' and the President’s budget," Walsh said. "But everyone needs to sit down with an open mind and take the pieces that will really help to foster an economic recovery without targeting certain groups.”

Of all the competing proposals, Walsh thinks the Senate Democrats’ budget is probably best for federal workers, though she does not speak for all coalition members.

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