Sequester impacts AHS


Senior Clare Lazar will usually go out to eat with her family every Friday or Saturday night. They’ve been known to enjoy trips to Coyote Grill, Silverado or Sweet Water. Starting April 21, these traditions, and a few other luxuries that AHS families enjoy will leave their lives as the doomed “sequester” hits the U.S.

Her father, Joe Lazar, is an attorney for the Department of Justice. He found out before the sequester that he would be one of thousands in the U.S. to receive a furlough notice. A furlough is a temporary unpaid leave from a company. For Joe, it will be about 14 days off of work from April 21 to the end of the fiscal year in September.

“I was really disappointed to find out about the furlough,” Joe Lazar said. “You go into government work because you know you won’t be rich, but because you love what you do and it’s a safe job. You never think you’ll be furloughed or get laid off or have funds cut.”

The sequester is a cut in government spending that resulted from the 2011 debt ceiling negotiations. It was declared to be a “last resort,” but was finalized after the Republicans and Democrats failed to make a decision by March 1.

Joe Lazar works for about 270 days a year. With his furlough, he will lose about five percent of his annual income, amounting to about $7,500 if the sequester continues to the end of the fiscal year.

“Because my furlough is a staggered 14 days, it’s not like I can go out and get another job as opposed to if it were a continuous amount,” Joe Lazar said. “I’m probably just going to stay home and do yard work with my unpaid time off.”

In addition to cutting eating out, Joe Lazar will also have to reconsider other luxuries he and his family enjoy. For the days that he will be working, Lazar plans to start bringing his lunch rather than buying it from a nearby vendor or restaurant.

“I think if anyone gets a pay cut in their job it’s hard, but I’m just glad that my dad has a job because I know that there are a lot of people that are unemployed,” Clare Lazar said.

Alumnus Michael Lazar is currently at the University of Georgia, while Clare Lazar will be enrolling at college next year.

“This sequester won’t affect where Clare is going to college; she’ll still get to choose,” Joe Lazar said. “We will just have to cut corners in other things, things we take for granted. Paying for college won’t have a big disruption unless [the sequester] goes into the next year.

“My parents are paying for my college and I can go anywhere in Virginia but if I want to go out of state I have to get some money from the college,” Clare Lazar said. “I’m definitely applying for scholarships and have already started to.”

Some AHS students will have to start contributing to their family’s income as a result of the sequester.

Senior Adam Cook’s mother works as a budget analyzer for the Department of Defense. With her furlough, she will receive a 20 percent pay decrease.

“Because my mom’s the only one working in my family, I’m going to have to start putting my paychecks towards my family’s finances,” senior Adam Cook said. “Fortunately the furlough doesn’t affect where I go for college because my mom’s been saving up for me for awhile.”

In addition to the sequester, the continuing resolution to the budget will end on March 27, resulting in an entire government shutdown if a new budget isn’t passed.

“There is a possibility that if the resolution ends without a new budget being passed, I would have to work without payment,” Joe Lazar said. “In this situation however, after the budget does pass, they will reimburse me. If it passes two days later, I would get paid retroactively.”

For sophomore Deanna Gowland and her family, the sequestration means a more difficult move. Gowland’s dad is a firefighter and her mother is a flight attendant. Both will have their hours and days cut as a result of the sequester.

“The sequester is mainly affecting my mother right now,” Gowland said. “Since she’s a flight attendant, she’ll have to start getting to the airport earlier with the changes in the airports and I’m basically going to be seeing my mom a lot less.”

“I’m afraid my family won’t be able to afford things because of my mom’s pay cut,” Cook said. “We’re all really worried. We’re not sure what’s going to happen, but all we can do is remain hopeful.”