Fed­eral shut­down caus­ing anx­i­ety — but lit­tle else

The News-Times (Sunday) - - News - By Kait­lyn Kras­selt kkras­[email protected]­medi­act.com; 203-842-2563; @kait­lynkras­selt

As the par­tial shut­down of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment ca­reens into its sec­ond week — and the new year — with no ap­par­ent end in sight, state and lo­cal of­fi­cials, as well as so­cial ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tions that rely on fed­eral fund­ing, are brac­ing for an im­pact yet to reach Con­necti­cut with force.

Con­necti­cut, like most states, is pro­tected from any im­me­di­ate bud­get im­pact, said Chris McClure, a spokesman for the state Of­fice of Pol­icy and Man­age­ment. But that doesn’t mean an ex­tended gov­ern­ment shut­down isn’t a big prob­lem for the state.

“The grants we re­ceive are al­ready ap­pro­pri­ated and al­lo­cated, so we’re op­er­at­ing with money the feds have al­ready given us,” he said.

Those funds will even­tu­ally run out, though, and state of­fi­cials said a pro­longed shut­down would cause big prob­lems. In the mean­time, state of­fi­cials are most con­cerned about fed­eral work­ers in the state — about 1,500 of the 8,000 to­tal — who will go without pay­checks un­til the shut­down ends.

They ex­pect to be paid retroac­tively even­tu­ally, if past shut­downs are a guide.

Also on the list of those hold­ing their breath for a speedy res­o­lu­tion are do­mes­tic vi­o­lence ad­vo­cates. With the shut­down came the ex­pi­ra­tion of the land­mark Vi­o­lence Against Women Act, which helps sur­vivors of do­mes­tic abuse and sex­ual as­sault by pro­vid­ing fund­ing to do­mes­tic vi­o­lence or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Prior to the shut­down, both the House and Se­nate passed bud­get agree­ments that would cover the costs of VAWA pro­grams through Feb. 8. Grants al­ready awarded be­fore the shut­down will not be af­fected, but fu­ture pay­ments for anti-do­mes­tic and an­ti­sex­ual vi­o­lence pro­grams funded by VAWA will be cut off un­til the leg­is­la­tion is reau­tho­rized

“The fact that it is in limbo is enor­mously con­cern­ing,” said Karen Jar­moc, CEO of the Con­necti­cut Coali­tion Against Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence. “We’re talk­ing about 40,000 vic­tims in Con­necti­cut who are as­sisted by VAWA. We’re hope­ful the shut­down is not a long-term cir­cum­stance. In the short­term we can man­age, and we’ll con­tinue to do the work we do. In the longterm if there is no fund­ing, we’ll have to ad­just and make some re­ally tough de­ci­sions.”

One main cause of worry is de­lays caused by the long plan­ning needed for loans, ap­provals and events such as trade shows. For ex­am­ple, the fed­eral hous­ing and agri­cul­ture de­part­ments, as well as the Small Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion, all make loans to Con­necti­cut busi­nesses, de­vel­op­ers and even home­own­ers.

Those aren’t nixed by the shut­down but af­ter a cou­ple of weeks, the de­lays have real con­se­quences.

”If it went past the week of the 7th, we’d be work­ing 18-hour days to catch up,” one fed­eral of­fi­cial said.

Par­ti­san swip­ing con­tin­ues.

“This hol­i­day sea­son, the pres­i­dent gave the Amer­i­can peo­ple a tem­per tantrum and a gov­ern­ment shut­down,” said Leigh Ap­pleby, a spokesman for Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy. “The guy who is sep­a­rat­ing ba­bies from their par­ents at the south­ern bor­der shut down crit­i­cal parts of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment be­cause our cur­rent sys­tem — plus the ad­di­tional fund­ing for bor­der se­cu­rity of­fered by Democrats — isn’t cruel enough to im­mi­grants. This rests squarely on the shoul­ders of Don­ald Trump, and it’s the peo­ple of Con­necti­cut who will pay for this lat­est melt­down.”

This is the third shut­down of 2018. The first, in Jan­uary, lasted only a few days, and a sec­ond in Feb­ru­ary lasted only nine hours.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said he’d hoped this third shut­down would be sim­i­lar, last­ing only a few days with min­i­mal im­pact on the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.

“With the hol­i­days we might not no­tice it too much,” he said. “For a cou­ple of days it isn’t more than an in­con­ve­nience for most peo­ple. But the longer it lasts, the more that will be af­fected.”

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