MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

October 10, 2013

Nearly 400 state workers to be furloughed

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Nearly 400 Oklahoma state employees whose salaries are funded with federal dollars were scheduled to begin furloughs next week if a funding agreement is not reached in Congress, a state finance official said Wednesday.

The Department of Rehabilitation Services submitted a furlough plan for 277 employees, while the Oklahoma Military Department is planning for 111 employees, said John Estus, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services.

"Other agencies have indicated furloughs may be necessary if the shutdown drags on," Estus said. "A longer shutdown lasting several weeks or months will create a more problematic situation."

The DRS employees being furloughed next Friday work in the agency's Social Security Disability Determination Division, agency spokeswoman Jody Harlan said.

"They received their (furlough) letters this week," Harlan said. "The funding just isn't there."

The Military Department employees are mostly civilians who perform a variety of roles to support the Oklahoma National Guard, including clerical, maintenance and administrative, said Guard spokesman Col. Max Moss.

Meanwhile, Moss said 9,700 Oklahoma Army and Air National Guard members are no longer participating in their traditional weekend readiness drills. That amounts to $2.5 million in payroll each month that members no longer receive, Moss said.

"Individually, many of our soldiers and airmen count on those funds to make a car payment or help support their families," Moss said.

Estus said state finance officials are concerned about the negative effect a shutdown could ultimately have on state revenues.

"Each day it continues the shutdown chips away at the economy and reduces tax collections for state government," Estus said. "It's a challenge that grows larger daily."

 

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