What States Learned During the Shutdown

By: - October 15, 2013 12:00 am

The shutdown of the federal government has shined a spotlight on the intertwined relationship between state and federal governments. Though often strained, the relationship means billions of dollars to states.

When Washington shuts down, pockets of state government do too. When the federal government is closed, the trickle-down impact hurts citizens and local economies.

Stateline explores the shutdown and the state-federal relationship by topic:

Tourism. Tourists were disappointed when 401 national parks were barricaded. But the pain went further in local communities, which are losing an estimated $76 million a day in lost visitor spending on lodging, meals, etc.  Some governors are using state funds to re-open parks. Examples: Arizona will pony up $93,000 per day to open the Grand Canyon. New York will pay $61,000 daily to keep Liberty Island open. And South Dakota is footing a ,200-a-day bill to operate Mount Rushmore.

Veterans. Starting Nov. 1, the government won’t have money to send benefit checks to veterans for disability and pensions. When federal workers were locked out, processing of veterans’ claims ceased. There are more than 725,000 claims pending; 58 percent of them have been waiting more than 125 days.

Health Threats.  The CDC has furloughed about 9,000 of its 15,000 workers, worrying state and local health agencies as they prepare for looming threats ranging from flu to an antibiotic-resistant salmonella outbreak. States rely on the CDC to step in when outbreaks cross state lines and for technical support and lab testing.

WIC.  The government shutdown leaves states without federal funds that underwrite the supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC. Since Oct. 1, states have been relying on leftover funds and emergency dollars from Washington to pay benefits to 8.5 million women and children. Those funds will run dry in many states Nov. 1.

Hunting. The closure of 600 million acres of federal lands has hunters and anglers up in arms just as hunting seasons are getting underway. Governors are trying to help sportsmen pursue their prey, allowing open access to hunting destinations such as the Mississippi River.

Federal Workforce. The furlough pain is not evenly distributed. States with the highest concentration of federal workers were hardest hit: Virginia is home to 144,753 federal workers, or 7.82 percent of the total civilian workforce; the District of Columbia has 143,537 federal employees or 7.76 percent; and Maryland has 119,816, or 6.48 percent.

Lawmaker Paychecks. Critics of Congress are grumbling that lawmakers are still getting their $174,000 salaries while federal workers are shut out from their jobs. (They will likely get retroactive pay when the crisis is over) In budget showdowns in California, Illinois and Minnesota, state constitutions prevented angry governors from docking lawmakers’ pay.

National Guard. Nearly 50,000 National Guard troops were furloughed. Guard units in Texas, Pennsylvania, Georgia and California are missing the most troops. In Colorado, the governor is paying the salaries of 650 Guardsmen who are helping clean up flood devastation.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Stateline staff
Stateline staff

Stateline’s team of veteran journalists combines original reporting with a roundup of the latest news from sources around the country.