I was furloughed on October 1 as a military civilian in Alabama. I immediately became proactive calling creditors that day. Some worked with me and some didn't. I was called back to start work on 10/8. I was very fortunate but of course my check was $700 short that I received last weekend. In Alabama like many states there is a one week waiting period so I did not get unemployment for that week I was furloughed. I tried local charities to at least help me in the interim and if I received back pay, they would get the donation back. I was told I did not qualify because they go off last month’s income. I tried to appeal to our community for all of us Federal and contractor via the local news on interview but the interview was so short that we still did not get much attention. I blogged on many sites including local sites to try and give people clarification of the bill originally signed by the house on retro pay and the fact that we had not received that as it seemed to be reported over and over as a headline. Our area didn’t have the facts and I felt like I needed to convey that to those not on social media. I also wanted to make a realization to the Gulf Coast that many residents were either furloughed employees still or furloughed a week like me with a check cut over half OR a federal contractor cut with no possibility of “back pay”. Another misconception was that we were “double dipping” and receiving state unemployment AND back pay with no intentions of paying the state back. In addition to the ‘double dipping” headline I also heard the term federal employees would be “paid twice” due to unemployment and half checks. In our state the maximum was 230 per week less taxes taken out. Though I would have been grateful to receive that, it pales in comparison to my normal rate of pay. Those comments/headlines basically undermined the integrity of the entire Federal work force and in fact they were very hurtful. The reality is that anyone receiving unemployment has that money reported to the IRS. The back pay is then also reported to the IRS therefore you have an overpayment from the state you filed in. The States will collect that money and tax you on it. In fact I was asked if I wanted to have the 10% tax amount taken out of my unemployment benefit if I became eligible to receive it and of course I said yes. People who applauded a shutdown really were not thinking of the implications this would have on the public and from what I see on social media and by direct conversations, it did. If anyone furloughed for longer than a week collected their state unemployment with back pay they have the ability to pay that back. Private sector workers not receiving back pay do not. The longer the government was shutdown the longer federal employees, federal contractors and even everyday citizens with private sector jobs not related to government but faced with an uncertain economy spend less money. In essence this then takes money out of the economy because the small businesses that are not backed by large corporations would have fewer customers forcing those business owners to either reduce hours of their employees or impose layoffs. Those employees then follow suit and file for unemployment. Since those workers don’t receive back pay, they can’t repay the money back. That could possibly bankrupt the state systems because other businesses don’t have the will to create new jobs in an unstable economy. I find it troubling that they could not keep us working but they would able to spend millions on barricading monuments and National Parks all of which our symbols of America. I am also baffled as to how anyone on the hill could leave out death payments for those who served our country and made the ultimate sacrifice. We would not be America without freedom fighters brave enough to stand up against any enemy foreign or domestic. The Pay Our Military Act is just that, to pay the Military and all who support it. Those brave souls who perished during the shutdown were active duty therefore why was it even an issue that they were included? They were active duty. I have learned a lesson myself and that is to save every penny. I can I am honestly on edge about our budget only in effect until January 15th. Working with fiscal funds throughout my entire Federal career we are always expected to budget our funds and have all funds obligated before the end of the fiscal year. We have 12 months to do this. Why were these differences not settled long in advance of a shutdown?
Our government process is not the enemy, the extreme greed of some who serve it are. Unfortunately like me and other federal employees the leaders in Washington who do have a love for this nation are grouped together with the elitist from both sides who somehow along the way lost the American spirit. Those elitist or in some cases extremists from both parties override anyone who wants to be reasonable. We will never know who said what verbatim due to the constant bashing from both sides. Reasons why in my opinion this happened on both sides has a lot to do with corporations lobbying. Again I am not siding with either party because I believe they both played a role in this either through negative propaganda, the backing of certain news outlet that swing more to one side or the other, no negotiating and the biggest mistake in my mind is waiting until the last second before a shutdown to argue these things. Both sides are aware of a fiscal year running from 10/1-9/30 each year. The problem in both parties is that the liberties we were provided during the birth of this nation have been lost. Those liberties provide political self-determination meaning everyone has an equal vote therefore you have a choice to vote for Republican or Democratic parties. It's our rights as Americans. Any president is supposed to represent our values as Americans not the sole values of one party. We ALL need to come together and reverse these wrongs and make this government whole again. I heard today the big talk on the hill today is who won or lost. This was not a game to my family or the thousands and thousands of us around the country and abroad furloughed, laid off, worried about checks we depend on or if we can visit a memorial that is a representation of what some fought for to protect this country. The entire country needs to come together regardless of political stance, race, religion, social status etc. and make this country great again. We need to enact laws that do not allow our leaders to be exempt from them. If you exempt yourself from something you’re “free from an obligations, duties and liabilities to which others are subject to; you are set apart.” If lawmakers believed in these laws enough to impose them on the American people why should they not follow suit? Also law makers should not be paid in the event of a shutdown as they are civil servants just like we federal employees are. My own interpretation of that particular exemption is that our government leaders do not have enough faith in themselves that a budget will be decided in an appropriate amount of time? In real time when you don’t do your job you have serious implications such as being terminated. I do commend those in Washington who saw it fit to refuse their salary during a shut down or donate their pay to charity and even those few who did try to uphold American principals but their voice was ignored and silenced by the rhetoric of bickering by those whose only intent on “winning”. We need to find ways as a whole to try and banish corruption that exist on both sides. We need to become inspired again by past leaders of this country that rallied us. We all need to believe in our Government again. I am proud of our military and proud of the DOD and our commands for working so hard to get Military civilians back to work quickly and I am very grateful today that I can say all my fellow civilian workers and contractors are back on the job today doing good
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