Arrow-right Camera


On local level, closure could crimp school programs, clinics

Thu., April 7, 2011

If a federal government shutdown takes effect Saturday, many local agencies could be affected, especially if the shutdown becomes protracted.

In response to federal budget uncertainties, the Idaho Army and Air National Guard has postponed training set to take place this weekend until next weekend, Maj. Gen. Gary Sayler said in a news release. The rescheduling will affect more than 3,000 guardsmen.

“The decision is not taken lightly,” Sayler said. “But the need for our men and women to notify their civilian employers, obtain child care and plan travel to their duty stations are the overriding factors.”

Local schools could also be affected. Reimbursement for federally funded programs such as English language development could be interrupted, meaning the district may have to temporarily foot the bill, said Terren Roloff, Spokane Public Schools spokeswoman.

Kauffman and Associates Inc., a local contractor that primarily works with federal agencies working in Native American communities, could also be affected by a protracted government shutdown, as could other federal contractors. However, President Jo Ann Kauffman said because the firm’s work is contractual and funds have already been procured for current projects, they wouldn’t likely feel the effects of a shutdown immediately.

“I think in terms of who will be impacted by a federal shutdown, it’s not so much the contractors or the nonprofits,” she said. “It’s really the beneficiaries. Those are going to be low-income, vulnerable populations.”

Agencies that provide essential services, such as Spokane’s NATIVE Project and NATIVE Health Clinic, are required to find a way to stay open, even in the event of a federal impasse. However, much of the NATIVE Health Clinic’s funding is federal, which could make staying open a challenge.

“People don’t stop getting really sick because the government shuts down,” said Executive Director Toni Lodge. “We are to stay open and we are to deliver quality care. That’s what we plan on doing. If this is a protracted and prolonged shutdown, we’ll just have to take a day at a time.”

It doesn’t appear a federal government shutdown would have much effect on local court cases. A check of the calendars of federal dockets in Coeur d’Alene and Spokane show no major criminal trials that would be disrupted if a work stoppage lasts long enough to affect local federal courts. Local postal services would not be interrupted.


Click here to comment on this story »