Failure of Congress to fund FAA leads to furlough of 651 N.J. federal workers | Economy | NewJerseyNewsroom.com -- Your State. Your News.

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Failure of Congress to fund FAA leads to furlough of 651 N.J. federal workers

FAAlogo072811_optN.J. AFL-CIO president says more unemployment last thing state needs

BY TOM HESTER SR.
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

The furlough of as many as 629 employees at the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township in Atlantic County and 22 others elsewhere in New Jersey after Congress failed to avert a shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, led the state AFL-CIO president on Thursday to speak out on the inaction.

“For New Jersey, the FAA shutdown places over 600 FAA employees out of work and leaves 1,500 construction workers out of their jobs,” Charles Wowkanech said.” New Jersey’s unemployment rate recently reached 9.5 percent, and the last thing we need to do now is to exacerbate the number of jobs being lost in our state.

The shutdown occurred on Saturday after lawmakers were unable to resolve a partisan dispute over an extension of the FAA's operating authority, which expired at midnight Friday. Nearly 4,000 FAA employees nationwide are temporarily out of work and federal airline ticket taxes are suspended, an action that will cost the U.S. government $200 million a week in revenue.

“The reality is that while these employees are out of work, more taxpayer dollars are going towards unemployment checks instead of being spent on critical aviation and construction projects to improve our state and country’s air transportation system,” Wowkanech said.

“With thousands of workers across the country out of work, this is not the appropriate time to be having this debate,” Wowkanech added. “It is simply wrong for Congress to drag this issue out while holding jobs hostage and placing families under further stress during already economically challenging times. The FAA and its employees serve a vital societal function by working to create the most efficient and state-of-the art air transportation system. Yet millions in funds, which support the FAA’s efforts, are being lost as a result of yet another political standoff.”

The Senate did not extend the FAA's operating authority Friday afternoon because of disagreement over amendments placed on the bill by the House of Representatives. House Republicans added a provision eliminating about $16.5 million in subsidies for airline service to 13 rural communities in 10 states. None of the towns are located in New Jersey.

The FAA, which has a $16 billion budget, was prepared to allocate $44 million for New Jersey airports.

 

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