Sequestration spending cuts hit CT

GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) -- The spending cuts that go along with sequestration are now arriving in Connecticut.

And specifically an important National Guard helicopter maintenance facility in Groton.

The furloughs designed to save money here at home are coming as the federal government is spending a billion dollars on helicopters made in Russia.   

National Guard helicopters from all over the northeastern United States come to Groton for repairs and regular maintenance.

Parts from overseas also come here to be rebuilt.
It's one of just four such facilities in the entire country.

The facility serves the 14 states from Virginia in the south, west to Ohio, and north to Maine.

However, starting this week, because of sequestration, 137 of these highly skilled technicians are being furloughed one day a week.

For technicians like 43-year-old Christian Mueller of Sprague, it means long weekends off for the next 11 weeks, but it also means a 20 percent pay cut.

"You're never happy about that sort of thing, but it's not like it came as a surprise. We had months and months to prepare for it," said Sgt. Christian Mueller, Sprague. "So, personally, I'm okay, it will be tight toward the end, but I've built up a nest egg for it."

"But you'd rather be working," asked News 8's Mark Davis.

"I'd much rather be working," said Mueller.

The lost hours mean the operation will be at least four helicopter maintenance jobs behind by the end of this year.

Senator Dick Blumenthal toured there Friday and noted that the federal government is spending a billion dollars on a contract for Russian Helicopters for Afghanistan.
Helicopters that an inspector general's report has concluded the Afghans have no pilots to fly.

"Those helicopters will be sitting on a runway in Afghanistan wasting U.S. taxpayer money," said Sen. Blumenthal.

So Blumenthal and seven other U.S. Senators, both Democrats and Republicans are urging the Defense Department to reconsider the Russian deal.

So the bottom line is it doesn't make any sense to anyone to furlough American workers in Groton while U.S. taxpayer dollars are being spent on Russian helicopters for the Afghans.

That helicopter maintenance facility in Groton serves 72 different aviation units in the Northeastern United States.

Those units have nearly 300 helicopters. Repair jobs can last four to six months.

Copyright 2014 WTNH TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Connecticut (change)

Connecticut has 169 cities and towns, which serve as the fundamental local political subdivision of the state. Connecticut is the 5th of the original thirteen United States.
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