Saturday, September 23 , 2017, 12:09 pm | Fair 68º


Local News

Federal Government Shutdown Would Affect Services Across California

The state could be left to carry the fiscal burden as a deadline looms for Congress

A shutdown of the federal government would close services across California and could force the cash-strapped state to front funding for programs without being reimbursed right away.

The U.S. House of Representatives has a deadline of midnight Friday to reach a budget compromise or a shutdown will go into effect Saturday, said Ashley Schapitl, press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara. A shutdown can be avoided even without a decision on a final budget number, since a short-term measure could be approved to keep the government funded until it figures out the details.

If a shutdown is announced, representatives will work through the weekend.

A shutdown of a couple of days would be inconvenient, but a few weeks would force states to front all money for cost-sharing programs — including unemployment — for which they’re usually immediately reimbursed by the federal government, Schapitl said.

Capps’ district, which stretches along the Central Coast from the Monterey-San Luis Obispo County line to Oxnard, has 10,590 federal employees and 10,905 federal retirees. Schapitl said it’s unclear how many employees would be affected by the shutdown.

All national parks would be closed, Internal Revenue Service tax refunds could be delayed, payments to federal contractors would be halted and there could be delayed payments from the Department of Education. Most of the education funding is not mandatory but is subject to appropriations, Schapitl said.

Lowered staffing most likely would cause delays in processing passports, new Social Security applications and other administrative services.

However, payments to “essential” or mandated programs would continue, including Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and food stamp programs.

The U.S. Postal Service is self-sustaining off postage and mailing fees, and hasn’t been funded with federal money since the 1970s, so it would be unaffected by a shutdown.

Capps’ offices throughout the district would try to keep services available to constituents, including veteran benefits and home mortgage modifications.

“Congresswoman Capps believes there is simply no reason for a government shutdown,” Schapitl said in a statement. “We basically have a budget agreement that makes historic cuts in federal spending.  In fact, Congress has already cut over $50 billion and the level of remaining cuts put on the table by the president and Senate Democrats exceeds what Speaker (John) Boehner initially announced as his goal.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, House Republicans and Democrats are still at a stalemate in discussing billions of dollars in budget cuts for the next fiscal year.

The last government shutdown in fiscal year 1996 involved closures of national parks and monuments; suspended work on thousands of bankruptcy cases; forced delays in processing passport applications, interruptions in veteran services, and delays in processing alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives applications; and forced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to cease disease surveillance, according to information sent from Capps’ office.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >