Automatic federal cuts could lead to local furloughs

Automatic federal cuts could lead to local furloughs

NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - Washington faces a looming deadline with no compromise on the table.

"It's that moment where our country has to come to grips with the belt-tightening that's going to be required to have a balanced budget," says Bryan Derreberry, the President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.

Congress has eight days to balance the budget, otherwise $85 billion worth of cuts will be set in motion. The largest chunk coming from defense-related programs.

"In the Lowcountry that means organizations like U.S. Customs, TSA at the airport, and Joint Base Charleston employees will be impacted," explains Derreberry.

The Chamber of Commerce says thousands of people at Joint Base Charleston could see a 20 percent pay cut.

"There are 5,000 civilian employees that are involved with either Joint Base Charleston or Department of Defense jobs, and they will begin to have one-day-a-week furloughs beginning March 1st."

It won't stop there. Non-defense programs will also have to re-work their budgets.

"Medicaid, IRS. It's going to impact education, transportation. So, it's across, the board cuts."

Chamber of Commerce officials say if the President and Congress haven't reached an agreement yet, it's not likely to happen.

"They've had a lot of time to do that, and it seems like all indications now are that sequestration will happen."