Local federal employees preparing for shutdown

Posted at: 09/30/2013 6:34 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Here it comes again. Congress locked in dysfunctional disagreement, the clock ticking, the federal government teetering on the edge of another shutdown, and New Mexico bracing itself for the impact.

New Mexico is heavily dependent on federal dollars, with lots of federal employees, and they’ve already been through the wringer when it comes to furloughs and shrunken paychecks. It’s deja vue all over again for Jessey Baca, a civilian who works for the Air National Guard at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque.

“We already went through the furlough the past three months,” Baca said. “We lost 12 days of pay and we haven’t had a cost of living raise in the last 5 years. The federal employee has taken it on the chin, every time we turn around.”

Caught in the crossfire while Congress quarrels are about 6,000 civilians working at New Mexico’s three Air Force bases and White Sands Missile Range. Then there’s the Bureau of Indian Affairs , the Energy department, and federal money that goes to fund all kinds of state agencies.

“We do have enough funding within each of the agencies to get through two or three or four weeks,” said Gov. Susana Martinez Monday afternoon. “There are some agencies that have already drawn down their funding, for example Medicaid, so that will last through December.”

“I’m not angry,” Baca said. “I’m frustrated because the way we’ve always been taught to work is you get things done, you work together – and that just doesn’t seem to be happening. Settle your differences!”

“It’s just so dysfunctional,” said Gov. Martinez. “They need to communicate. You cannot fix a problem without talking to each other.”

Administrators at Sandia and Los Alamos national labs say employees there should be okay for the short term. Local government leaders say federal money for thi8ngs like after-school programs and airports and senior meal services could dry up in a hurry.


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