Sequester

Three federal contractors at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation say they’ll lay off 450 workers over the next year.

Remember the "sequester" cuts? The dust is finally settling and the consequences becoming real for a program in the U.S. Forest Service that sends money to timber counties.

At the beginning of sequestration, the Forest Service demanded that rural counties pay back some of the timber payments they'd already received and spent. But all of the recipients of the federal aid refused to go along with this approach to across-the-board federal budget cuts.

murray.senate.gov

Several months into federal sequestration budget cuts, some of the most severe reductions are just now taking effect.

Public Affairs Office Madigan Army Medical Center

More than 2,600 civilian employees at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma will begin mandatory one-day-a-week furloughs Monday. The furloughs are a result of the federal spending cuts known as sequestration.

In the next couple of months, many employment office workers in the Northwest will join the unemployed. State labor agencies are having to make cutbacks in staffing. It's due to a combination of the economy getting better and federal budget cuts known as the “sequester” setting in.

Staffing at the local employment office usually moves in the exact opposite direction as the rest of the economy. When times are tough, unemployment rolls are booming.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Wikimedia Commons

Federal budget cuts and above normal fire potential could mean a tough wildfire season in the West. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack got a look at the fire picture Monday at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. Predictions indicate that Idaho, Oregon, California, Arizona, and New Mexico will have an above average fire season this summer.

Some Washington residents who receive unemployment benefits will soon get significantly less money from the government.

It’s a result of the federal sequestration. In Washington state, regular benefits last about six months. After that, recipients can get those benefits extended for another nine months. Those extended benefits are completely funded on the federal level. And they’re the ones getting slashed. Not dropped, but reduced by 21%.

Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane is planning a public memorial service for three of its airmen killed in a mid-air explosion over central Asia. The cause of the air refueling tanker accident last Friday remains under investigation. The crash renews attention on a Boeing Company contract to replace the Air Force's aging tanker fleet.

The doomed Fairchild Air Force Base crewmates were flying a KC-135 Stratotanker built by Boeing in the early 1960s. By all accounts, Air Force mechanics keep the 50-year-old tanker fleet in good condition.

The White House says President Obama will sign a fast-tracked Congressional bill to end the furloughs of air traffic controllers. Operators of smaller Northwest airports hope the measure also stops the planned closure of their control towers.

As of now, more than a dozen of the less busy airport control towers in Oregon, Washington and Idaho remain on a list to be deactivated in early June. They're potential casualties of across-the-board federal budget cuts at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Beth Redfield

Some Northwest cities and counties are exploring whether to use local or private money to keep their airport control towers open. By mid-June, the federal government plans to close the control towers at 13 small to medium sized airports across the region.

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