ONTARIO (CBSLA) – The budget fight between the White House and Congress which has sparked a three-week government shutdown is creating financial hardships for thousands of federal employees, including one Ontario firefighter and his family.
The shutdown has been a painful reality for U.S. Forest Service Capt. Mark Munoz, one of the 800,000 furloughed federal employees who has not been paid for weeks.
“From day one, when you first hear about a furlough coming in… you already have to start making preparations.” Munoz told CBS2 Thursday night. “You’ve got to start looking at, what utility companies are you going to call? Are you going to need extensions?”
Munoz has been with USFS for 15 years. He says he has never gone this long without a paycheck. Federal firefighters generally make less than city and county firefighters, Munoz says, and usually live paycheck-to-paycheck.
“It’s bringing a lot of stress,” Munoz said.
To compound matter, Munoz says his wife just underwent surgery after battling cancer. The couple have seven daughters.
“What are we gonna cut out? Is my youngest daughter going to be able to go to Taekwondo? Are we gonna be able to pay for sports for the kids? Are we gonna have to cut back on groceries?”
Five months ago Munoz was battling the massive Holy Fire burning in Orange and Riverside counties. Now he’s batting financial difficulties.
“Calling your landlord and saying, ‘Hey, I might not be able to pay rent, or pay the mortgage, or pay the bills on time.”
Munoz told CBS2 he’s been putting off filing for unemployment, but was considering filing a claim Friday.