Missouri sees little impact from federal shutdown

A park ranger, who declined to give his name, reads a sign announcing the closing of the Statue of Liberty, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, in New York. Congress plunged the nation into a partial government shutdown Tuesday as a long-running dispute over President Barack Obama's health care law forced about 800,000 federal workers off the job, suspending all but essential services.

A park ranger, who declined to give his name, reads a sign announcing the closing of the Statue of Liberty, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, in New York. Congress plunged the nation into a partial government shutdown Tuesday as a long-running dispute over President Barack Obama's health care law forced about 800,000 federal workers off the job, suspending all but essential services. Photo by The Associated Press.

The Missouri National Guard has “delayed drill weekend activities until the (federal) government resumes normal operations,” Maj. Tammy Spicer said Tuesday.

And, she said, about 70 percent of the Guard’s “federal technicians” — about 1,400 employees — should learn this morning that they will be taking a forced time off because they haven’t been “excepted” from the shutdown’s furloughs.

However, Spicer noted, the National Guard has a dual role and dual funding, using both state and federal money for operations.

“In the event of a state emergency duty, we are ready and able to perform our mission ... under all circumstances,” she said, “regardless of everything that’s happening and all the uncertainties.”

The federal government’s operations shutdown also could have implications for the banking industry.

Banks that make government-guaranteed small business, mortgage or farm loans — and customers seeking those loans — will feel the impact immediately.

The U.S. Small Business Administration, the Federal Housing Administration and the Farm Service Agency generally will stop processing loan applications.

The SBA posted a notice on its website Friday, saying the agency was expected to furlough 62 percent of its 3,500 workers around the country.

At the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 349 of the agency’s 8,709 employees were expected to maintain minimum operations.

“They are working at a greatly scaled-back rate,” said Bill Ratliff, a Missouri Bankers Association executive vice president. “We’re expecting a backlog to develop.”

But, Ratliff said, if the government shutdown persists for only a week, it’s unlikely to cause much disruption.

“If you’re in the middle of getting a loan, there may be a delay, depending on the type of loan,” he said. “But, for the most part, it’s business as usual.”

And that should be true generally in Mid-Missouri, officials said.

“We continue to assess the federal budget situation, and we anticipate continued modification in information from federal agencies,” state Budget Director Linda Luebbering said late Tuesday afternoon, in an e-mail. “Many programs will not be impacted in the short run,” including Medicaid.

“We have also been informed that there is sufficient funding to continue Food Stamps and WIC benefits, at least for the short run,” she added.

“Unemployment benefits should also continue.”

Missouri’s Transportation Department expects little, if any, impact “unless it is a prolonged shutdown,” spokesman Bob Brendel said. “Highway funds are in the trust fund, and not part of the regular federal budget.

“And federal highway employees are not in the furlough.”

Amtrak, the federal passenger train service, still is operating, so the Missouri River Runner trains which connect St. Louis and Kansas City through Jefferson City — with the help of a state subsidy — will continue.

The state Elementary and Secondary Education department said in an email it expects “routine automated grants-related transactions, including the drawdown of funds will continue. Requests that require action by U.S. (Education) Department employees would not be completed during the shutdown.”

Similarly, spokeswoman Liz Coleman said, the state’s Higher Education department “anticipates very little impact. ... It will not affect student loans, and the department should not experience any furlough of staff.”

Lincoln University’s extension programs “have not been affected,” university relations director Misty Young reported.

Even though the National Churchill Museum at Westminster College, Fulton, campus has a “national” designation, the museum will remain open.

“The designation was granted by Congress, but it’s not a federally run museum. It’s totally open,” said Westminister spokesman Rob Crouse.

Federal offices in the region face more complications.

The Jefferson City Social Security office on Scott Station Road is providing some, though not all, of its usual services.

“People have been watching the news and some of them are assuming we’re probably closed — but we’re still open,” District Manager Ruth Taylor said. The office’s hours remain unchanged.

Taylor said the most-essential services still are available, while some lesser services are suspended until further notice.

Services continuing throughout the shutdown, she said, include: helping people apply for benefits; assisting in appeal requests; taking changes of address or direct deposit information; accepting death reports; verifying or changing citizenship status; replacing missing Social Security payments; issuing critical payments; changing representative payees; and processing a change in people’s living arrangements or income for SSI recipients only.

Luebbering said state officials also are worried about Congress’ next budget fight — raising the federal government’s debt-ceiling by Oct. 17, so the U.S. Treasury can continue to pay the government’s bills.

“We are also monitoring the issue of the federal debt ceiling,” Luebbering said, “and believe that issue could have a much broader impact on programs and employees.”

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Please review our Policies and Procedures before registering or commenting

News Tribune - comments