Tampa, Florida -- Employees at military bases around the country will start being furloughed today, taking days off without pay.
It's part of a Department of Defense program to cut costs, and it's being felt here in the Tampa Bay area by workers at MacDill Air Force Base.
More than an entire two-week paycheck -- gone. How would that go over in your house?
For around 3,500 civilians working at MacDill Air Force Base in South Tampa, it's going to hurt. And as a community, that's as much as $15 million that won't be flowing into the Tampa Bay economy.
The federal budget cuts called "sequestration" already grounded MacDill's AirFest air show this year.
And back in March, it was expected to put on hold $6.6 million in planned construction projects at the base.
But this round of forced furloughs is by far the toughest to take, with workers taking 11 unpaid days off between now and the end of September.
It's tough to pin down exactly how much each family will lose.
Col. Scott DeThomas, the base commander, directly oversees about two-thirds of the affected employees. He told the Tampa Bay Times his folks would lose $4,200 each.
If that's multiplied out over all 3,550 employees getting sent home without pay, it's nearly $15 million in income MacDill's civilians won't be getting.
Forced to trim billions from the military's budget, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he had to cut some civilian pay or risk cutting the military's ability to fight.
"We've already cut into readiness," Hagel said. "We are standing down 16 Air Force squadrons. We are not sailing a lot of ships. No new training in the Army."
Cuts in other parts of the military budget went deeper than originally expected, so the Department of Defense was able to reduce its original plan of 22 furlough days down to 11.
The pay and benefits for people in uniform and veterans are not going to be touched by these cuts. That's one reason civilians have ended up absorbing so much of it.
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