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Weathermen win budget round

A Senate committee backs forecasters on cuts.

When the bosses proposed cutting the jobs of 122 technicians responsible for the sophisticated equipment at National Weather Service offices around the country, it's safe to say that some government meteorologists didn't think that was such a hot idea.

'We're putting people's lives at risk," David A. Solano, a hydrologist at the Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center in State College, said in an article we published last month.

At the time, Congressman Chaka Fattah went on record as saying it wouldn't happen.

Yesterday, the Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee seconded Fattah's motion.

The subcommittee voted 17-to-1 to approve a budget Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee that would spare the technicians.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the weather service's parent agency, had proposed eliminating the Information Technology Officers, or ITOs at the 122 offices and replacing them with 24 to be stationed at undetermined remote locations.

In a news release, the subcommittee said that its bill "does not support proposed cuts to NOAA's operations that would hurt local communtiies, such as eliminating local weather forecasting staff."

The panel said that instead, it would be smarter to cut overhead and consolidate management.

The House subcommittee, of which Fattah is the ranking member, is expected to vote on its version tomorrow.