A small group of elected officials in Congress is currently leading the effort to find common ground on a budget proposal to avoid a repeat of the federal government shutdown and prevent sequestration in the coming years.

Those are goals many Americans support, but how we get there could have devastating effects here in Maine.

Among the proposals under consideration is an extension of the three-year federal employee pay freeze and a cut in take-home pay for federal employees through an increase in federal retirement contributions. If the committee is unable to agree on a path forward, then more furloughs of vital federal workers are almost sure to occur.

Many people think that federal employees are concentrated in the Washington, D.C., area, but the truth of the matter is that more than 85 percent live and work outside D.C. The federal government is one of Maine’s largest employers. So when we cut the paychecks of Maine’s middle-class federal employees, we are also harming our state’s economy and local businesses.

I urge Maine’s members of Congress to reject these proposals, which would take millions of dollars away from our local economy next year and weaken our federal workforce for years to come.

Diane HaggardGardinerNARFE Chapter