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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • Government shutdown's impact locally?

  • While the focus of the federal shutdown has been put on furloughed workers in Washington, D.C. and the gridlock in legislation, local entities are starting to feel the hurt as well.
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  • While the focus of the federal shutdown has been put on furloughed workers in Washington, D.C. and the gridlock in legislation, local entities are starting to feel the hurt as well.
    "Unfortunately, the impacts [on city operations] may not be obvious and will almost certainly compound if the shutdown is protracted and the debt ceiling is reached," said Donald Reeder, Assistant Director of Communications for Public Affairs for the League of Minnesota Cities.
    While Reeder reassured that the departments and agencies that deal with services like prevention of safety threats will stay open, many programs that are deemed "nonessential" have been stopped, or will be stopped if the shutdown continues.
    Starting last week, the workers in the Farm Service Agency were furloughed, including the office in Clarkfield, and started having an automatic email reply for those inquiring about services.
    "I am on furlough without access to email, due to the lapse in government funding," read part of the email response, adding a link to a government website with an ever growing list of affected departments and services.
    Without the FSA, local farmers will be unable to report losses in crops or herds due to storms, should a damaging storm arise during this furlough period.
    The Minnesota State Health Department announced layoffs to 105 state workers, with the possibility of 3000 similarly situated employees in danger for potential future layoffs. Currently layoffs have not happened at Countryside Public Health, and employees have been told to continue issuing vouchers through the end of the month.
    The director for Minnesota's Head Start programs said state funding will cover Head Start programs for now, including in the YME district, but a lengthy shutdown could change that. School lunches and breakfasts, or other USDA services like food stamps will likely face shortfalls in November.
    The shutdown, now getting tied to the looming debt ceiling legislation crisis, also is putting the farm bill on hold, preventing Rep. Collin Peterson's attempt to grow the barley industry and other agriculture boosts in Western Minnesota from going through.
    Some broader implications include the freeze on new passports, home mortgages, small business loans and applications for new Social Security benefits. Uncertainty in the stock market is also causing a global drop in the economy, on top of the shutdown costing taxpayers roughly 300 million dollars a day.
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