Malloy: Cuts could force 576 in National Guard to be furloughed

Hartford (AP) - Automatic federal budget cuts set to take effect this week would result in the furlough of 576 National Guard personnel in Connecticut, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Sunday.

The Democratic governor, sparring with former Republican Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi on CNN, said Republicans who control the U.S. House of Representatives are seeking to cut unspecified services to preserve military spending.

"They want to make sure they get their defense spending so they want to take more out of services, they want to take more out of the middle class, they want to really beat up the middle class pretty bad," Malloy said. "This has real consequences and it's absolutely the wrong time to be doing this."

In response, Barbour said Democrats who run the U.S. Senate have failed to propose an alternative spending plan.

Col. John Whitford, a spokesman for the Connecticut National Guard, said in an interview with The Associated Press that the 576 National Guard personnel who would be affected represent nearly 90 percent of technicians who do administrative, maintenance, training and operations work. Hundreds of active Guard reservists would not be affected, he said.

A furlough could be the loss of one work day in each two-week period. The impact could be felt most in April, Whitford said.

"The longer this goes, the greater the impact," he said.

More details are needed before state officials know precisely what the impact of the budget cuts are, he said. For example, spending cuts would eliminate out-of-state training, forcing the National Guard to look for facilities in Connecticut and rework plans, he said.

The $85 billion in cuts are set to take effect Friday. It would lead to furloughs for hundreds of thousands of workers at the Transportation Department, Defense Department and elsewhere.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the cuts would harm the readiness of U.S. fighting forces. He said the majority of the Defense Department's 800,000 civilian workers would lose one day of work a week for up to 22 weeks, probably starting in late April.

And Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said travelers could face delays because the Federal Aviation Administration is in line for $600 million in spending cuts.

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