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Tinker Air Force base discusses impacts of no budget deal

Tinker Air Force base said not having an approved budget for this year could lead to furloughs of civilian employees. (KOKH/Will Maetzold)

Col. Kenyon Bell is concerned about what the future will look like at Tinker if a budget isn't passed soon. The commander said it could mean big cutbacks for the Air Force base.

"The worst-case scenario would be you'd have some type of furloughing, civilian hiring freeze and when you have a civilian hiring freeze at an installation like this it has major impacts," Bell said.

The reason Bell said this is because so much is done at Tinker. There are more than 31,000 total employees, including more than 18,000 civilians that could be furloughed.

"We are a community that comes together and we are kind of our own city within the confines of Tinker Air Force Base," Bell said.

Right now, the base is operating under a continuing resolution to provide funding. But there is uncertainty as to how long it will last and the projects that can be funded.

"That causes us to be inefficient in our work," Bell said. "All the people, once the people come on and get ready to do our jobs they need to have facilities that will be able to accommodate the work that they're doing."

Bell is also concerned about the civilian workforce not coming back if they're furloughed.

"That adds to the uncertainty for job employment and people start to go elsewhere and that's very unfortunate for us to be able to keep the talent we need in order to provide for the nation's defense," Bell said.

The same situation happened at Tinker in 2013 and civilian employees were laid off for a combined 6.6 million days.

"When they are unable to come to work, they're going to go find employment somewhere else," Bell said.

No discussions on furloughs have taken place yet but once they get closer to knowing if the budget will pass, that's when those decisions will be made.

The total economic impact from the employees at Tinker is estimated at just under $4 billion.

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