Sequestration had an effect on National Guard, adjutant general says

TRENTON – The effects of the federal government sequestration have hit the National Guard, in terms of cutting down on practice flying time and pay cuts, Adjutant General Michael Cunniff told the Assembly Budget Committee.

Flying time has been reduced from 180 hours a month to 60 hours. A $12 million cut in the National Guard’s operating budget means not enough funds for ample basic training and a $400,000 cut in recruitment. Salaries for Guardsmen have also dipped 14 percent.

It remains to be seen what will happen in fiscal year 2014, since the budget for the federal government has yet to be enacted.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in 2014,” he said.

On the bright side, literally and figuratively, the solar panels that have been set up on many military buildings in the state have saved nearly $200,000 in utility costs.

Cunniff said Superstorm Sandy showed the group at its finest hour, where they rescued 7,500 people from flooded homes. Some 144 Guardsmen participated in that effort.

Committee members had nothing but praise for the units, especially for their work in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

“Knowing your guys were there made a huge difference psychologically and physically,” he said. “I can’t thank you enough on behalf of my residents.”

Assemblyman Gary Schaer said: “You gave us such confidence and pride.”

Sequestration had an effect on National Guard, adjutant general says