A reader quotes another:
“I’m on furlough, and …. I’m worrying about how this is going to impact the household budget, wondering if I might need to apply for unemployment benefits if this lingers on (and just how I go about doing that).” I’m employed by a state university but my office is located at a federal research lab. I’m not allowed in my office during the shutdown and I can’t access the federal computers and datasets, but I’m expected to work as best as I can and I will continue to be paid. I know I am fortunate compared to my federal colleagues!
At the final, pre-shutdown “Town Hall Meeting” in the federal lab on Monday, one of the federal scientists asked about unemployment. Someone in the audience had researched that: regulations vary by state, and in our state a furloughed federal employee cannot apply for unemployment benefits because they are considered still employed (even though they are not allowed to go to work and are not being paid)! I don’t even know what part of that last sentence to emphasize. The human toll is potentially huge.
I’m a federal employee, and so is my wife (we have two kids in college). I can’t complain too much (at least in the short run); we’re prudent and we have some savings. But between the two of us, the shutdown is costing us about $500/day. If we end up getting it back, that’ll make a rather big difference.
But in the interim, we’re slowing the economy. How? Just today, our contractor came by; he was going to start to do $3000 of repairs of a basement struck with mold (to which I am severely allergic). We told him: sorry, we can’t afford it now, go home. So even though we are weathering the shutdown (in the short term), those who rely upon our spending are getting hurt.
I run a small, rural domestic violence and rape crisis center in Northern California. We are the only provider of this kind for the entire county and we are supported through funds from the Violence Against Women Act. We just received this email from our grant monitor in Sacramento regarding our federal funds:
Office of Justice Programs (OJP) have sufficient resources to remain operational through Friday, October 4, 2013. This means that OJP staff will be available to assist grantees and OJP payment systems and services will be available through October 4, 2013. Should funding not be restored by October 4, 2013, OJP will cease all operations and California will not be able to draw down funds and reimburse your invoices.
This means the State of California cannot draw down the VAWA funds to pay us for our services – which by the way, are mandated by law. We are not quality-of-life providers, like social services, but we’re not quite emergency services providers either, like law enforcement. We are somewhere in between and apparently not considered essential.
I can tell you with some certainty that many of the rural domestic violence shelters (who don’t have wealthy communities to draw from) will not be operational should the VAWA funding not be rolling down as scheduled. I can also tell you with certainty, that right now almost every shelter in the State is housing not only adult victims of abuse, but many, many children, all of whom may be forced to hit the rickety road soon, compliments of the mostly males members of the “shutdown coalition”.
Yes I’m on furlough, but who cares. What is that compared to a small group of thugs hijacking my country in hopes that the uninsured will remain so. Crush them. As long as it takes.