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Fed shutdown causing anxiety but few big impacts in state

December 30, 2018

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, 2019. Grants already awarded before the shutdown will not be affected, but future payments for anti-domestic and anti-sexual 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 short-term we can manage, and we’ll continue to do the work we do. In the long-term if there is no funding, we’ll have to adjust and make some really tough decisions.”

“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.”

kkrasselt@hearstmediact.com; 203-842-2563; @kaitlynkrasselt

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