MASCOUTAH, Ill. (AP) - The federal government won't make a decision for years on whether to close Scott Air Force Base, but leaders in southwest Illinois fear growing budget pressures in Washington could affect the facility's future.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports that Illinois congressmen are working to keep the base open even though the next round of base closures won't take place until at least 2015.
Republican U.S. Rep. John Shimkus tells the newspaper that the base's fate is at risk if Congress doesn't reform entitlement programs. Defense Department officials have said that the facility has more infrastructure than needed.
Civilian workers at the base near Mascoutah are already scheduled to start taking 20 days of unpaid furloughs between May and September as a result of a series of automatic federal budget cuts.
PENSACOLA NAVAL AIR STATION, Fla. (AP) - The U.S. Navy has canceled the remainder of the elite Blue Angels demonstration team's 2013 season because of federal cuts.
The commander of Naval air forces announced the decision on Tuesday.
The Blue Angels have performed at air shows around the world for more than 60 years. The fighter pilots selected to serve a two-year tour with the team are among the world's best and are often graduates of the Navy's famed Top Gun air tactics school.
A spokesman for the Navy said team members would be allowed to fly minimal hours to maintain flight proficiency in the F/A 18 fighter jets, but the six-jet squadron would discontinue group practices for the remainder of the season.
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A spokesman for the Illinois National Guard and Air National Guard says more than 1,300 of its civilian employees will be taking unpaid furloughs as part of the automatic federal spending cuts that kicked in last month.
Capt. Dutch Grove tells the Belleville News-Democrat workers will be taking 14 days of furloughs through the end of this fiscal year. Those workers include 230 at Scott Air Force Base in southwestern Illinois.
He says those furloughs are set to start in mid-June, but that details on how that will play out remains unclear.
The Scott base employs almost 5,600 civilian workers. It is located near Mascoutah. Base officials say those exempted from the furloughs include firefighters and others who hold jobs are considered essential for base safety and security.
Cuts in the classroom are coming to the East St. Louis School District. Teachers layoffs were announced during Thursday night's packed school board meeting.
In all, 69 teachers in District 189 will lose their jobs. Five elementary school principals and two middle school principals will also be cut.
East St. Louis is just the latest in a long list of metro-east school districts forced to make the cuts because of state and local budget issues.
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is proposing cuts to Social Security as an attempt to compromise with Republicans on the budget.
A senior administration official says the budget Obama will offer to Congress next Wednesday would reduce the deficit by $1.8 trillion over 10 years. It includes a revised inflation adjustment called "chained CPI" that would curb cost-of-living increases in Social Security and other benefit programs.
The senior administration official stressed it is not the president's preferred approach but a compromise proposal to try to reach a long-term budget deal. Obama first made the offer to House Speaker John Boehner last year.
The official spoke on a condition of anonymity since the budget has yet to be released. Technically, the administration actually would be limiting the growth of Social Security.
The agency announced Friday that it will begin closing 149 air traffic facilities starting April 7.
The affected Illinois towers are at St. Louis Regional Airport in East Alton, Central Illinois Regional Airport at Bloomington-Normal, Decatur Airport, Southern Illinois Airport in Carbondale and Waukegan Regional Airport near Chicago.
All of the affected airports will remain open. Under long-established procedures, pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency without help from controllers.
The FAA is being forced to trim $637 million for the rest of the fiscal year under the federal cuts known as sequestration.
Senate Democrats: $46.5 trillion
House Republicans: $41.7 trillion
Senate Democrats: $41.2 trillion
House Republicans: $40.2 trillion
Senate Democrats: $5.4 trillion
House Republicans: $1.4 trillion
National debt at end of 2023
Senate Democrats: $24.4 trillion
House Republicans: $20.3 trillion
Senate Democrats: $11.3 trillion
House Republicans: $11.3 trillion
Senate Democrats: $6.8 trillion
House Republicans: $6.7 trillion
Health, including Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program
Senate Democrats: $6.6 trillion
House Republicans: $4.0 trillion
Senate Democrats: $6.0 trillion
House Republicans: $6.2 trillion
Income security, including housing assistance, cash benefits and food stamps
Senate Democrats: $5.6 trillion
House Republicans: $5.0 trillion
Interest on national debt
Senate Democrats: $5.2 trillion
House Republicans: $4.5 trillion
Veterans benefits and services
Senate Democrats: $1.7 trillion
House Republicans: $1.7 trillion
International Affairs, including foreign aid
Senate Democrats: $506 billion
House Republicans: $431 billion
Education, training, employment and social services
Senate Democrats: $1.1 trillion
House Republicans: $906 billion
Senate Democrats: $919 billion
House Republicans: $801 billion
Senate Democrats: $205 billion House Republicans: $196 billion
Natural resources and environment
Senate Democrats: $474 billion
House Republicans: $385 billion
Community and regional development
Senate Democrats: $268 billion
House Republicans: $88 billion
Sources: Senate Democratic and House Republican budget proposals.
The bill is sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan and comes out of a laborious process where lawmakers are addressing the pension problem piece by piece instead of a total overhaul at once. House members voted in favor 66-50 yesterday. It's the third scaled-back pension bill the House has recently approved.
Thursday's proposal says that no cost-of-living increases can be taken until retirees reach 67 years of age, or five years after retirement and applies COLAs only to the first $25,000 of an annual pension.
Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liability because for years lawmakers either skipped or shorted payments.
The furloughs mean affected employees will work only four days each week for 22 weeks, and they'll lose the pay for those 22 days off.
Only civilian employees in jobs essential for base safety and security, like firefighters, will be spared.
The paper reports that budget analyst estimate the furloughs will cost the region at least $28 million in reduced spending. About 5,600 civilians work at Scott Air Force Base.
District 118 will lay off six teachers and 20 staff members. The state of Illinois owes the district nearly two-million dollars.
In Highland, several teachers are being let go, but the specifics haven't been released.
Earlier this week, officials with Belleville District 201 and the Collinsville School District announced layoffs.