When Democrats and Republicans in Congress and President
Obama couldn’t compromise on the budget in 2011 they agreed to sequestration.
That’s an automatic across the board spending cut of $1.2 trillion over 10
years. Half the cuts will come from the military.
Sequestration was originally supposed to take place Jan. 2, 2013 but Congress and the
President struck a deal to put it off until March 1. Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, West
Virginia adjutant general, said the defense
department is sending out guidance on how to handle the cuts.
“We’re preparing for a broad range of potential impacts that
could face us, everything from reducing the number of training days that we might
have available for the rest of the current federal fiscal year ’13 to include
if they really get into a significant sequestration issue there could be the
possibility of laying off federal technicians, federal employees who work on
behalf of the Guard,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer doesn’t know at this point how many people would have
to be laid off and he doesn’t have a figure for how large a budget cut West
Virginia’s Guard faces but says the number could be
in the range of several million dollars.
He said in fiscal year 2012 West
Virginia spent $21 million on the Guard and brought
in $454 million in federal money.
Earlier this week the 167th Airlift Wing in
Martinsburg cited sequestration budget cuts as the reason for not participating
in this year’s Thunder Over the Blue Ridge Air Show. Hoyer said that’s one of
several steps the Guard is taking to prepare for the cuts.
“We’re being very restrictive on travel,” Hoyer said. “Where
we normally might be sending somebody to do a face-to-face meeting at a conference
we’re doing it by video teleconference.”
Hoyer said the Guard is also looking at managing utility
costs more effectively and is not planning to fill vacant positions for now. Hoyer
said budget cuts would impact many communities around the state.
“We have armories in 33 locations and we have two air bases
and they are part of the life blood of the state of West
Virginia,” he said. “It could very well have an
impact on our ability, if we don’t have enough utility dollars and we can’t
keep an armory open and somebody might be using it for a community event or a
Hoyer is frustrated that Congress isn’t acting quickly to
resolve the issue.
“They’re pressing us up against the wall to be able to
respond to this and we’re not going to be able to give our men and women ample
notice if we would have to do something,” he said.
“Here’s the real frustrating thing for me,” he said. “We ask
these young men and women to go overseas and demonstrate the highest level of
leadership to protect this nation and represent this nation and my personal
opinion is it’s time for us to see the highest level of leadership demonstrated
in making sure that these young men and women have some stability in what’s
Hoyer said members from West Virginia’s
congressional delegation from both parties have shown support for the National
Guard and he’d like to see a similar bipartisan effort from the rest of
Click on the link to hear the entire interview with Hoyer.