Government furloughs would impact Lawrence businesses

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Eleven thousand civilians who work for the military in Indiana could lose 20 percent of their pay if automatic spending cuts go into effect Friday. The Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress Tuesday those cuts would be swift and severe if no agreement is reached in the next two days. The impact would have repercussions in the local community.

Joaquin Parraga's jewelry store, Dejoan Jewelry, sits right next to the Department of Defense's Finance and Accounting Center in Lawrence. Many of his customers are DFAS employees, people who may soon have less money to spend at his store if they're forced to take furloughs.

DFAS employees would have to take 22 unpaid days off between April and September.

Parraga said he chose his location because of the large number of employees at DFAS. "This is affecting everybody here," he said.

Tammy Cunningham owns a nearby cafe, and she's worried about the ripple effect, too.

"I think they'll cut their eating out expense. That'll be one thing I'm sure they'll cut out. So it will affect me," she said.

Cunningham is already planning for a worst-case scenario by scheduling fewer employees and implementing an on-call schedule so that if someone is needed, they can be called in. "That was different from before," she said.

Taylor's Pub III also draws a lot of DFAS employees, especially at lunch.

"It's horrible in every direction," said Wendy Hiatt, pub owner. "For their families, every which way."

The concerns go beyond the impact on local business. The mayor says the furloughs would mean less tax revenue for Lawrence.

"I don't think it's any secret to anyone that we, like all other cities in Indiana, have been struggling with revenues and every little stream of revenue we are trying to guard religiously," said Mayor Dean Jessup(D-Lawrence).

"I don't know what is the solution. I don't know what is the government thinking now, but I hope we have the solution," said Parraga.