Utah preparing for possible government shutdown with federal budget in question

Posted at 9:43 PM, Sep 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-24 23:43:39-04

SALT LAKE – With less than a week remaining in the fiscal year, Utahns wait for a decision on a Federal budget which could have major impacts on the State level.

Congress is working to pass a fiscal budget plan by October 1, but one issue seems to be separating politicians in Washington DC from agreeing on a plan.  That issue involves whether Planned Parenthood should be Federally funded going forward.

In recent weeks, Utah Senator Mike Lee has voiced his concern with it being included in a budget, and it appears he’s not alone on Capital Hill.  However, as important as the issue may be, it makes up about one-fiftieth of one percent of the overall budget.

In 2013, a 16-day government shutdown went into affect after budget issues over Obama Care.  As a result, Federally non-essential funded items were temporarily disrupted.  One of the areas impacted were National Parks like Zion, and Arches, to name a few.  In the first 10 days of the shutdown, the State Tourism Office estimates that Utah lost over 2 million dollars in revenue.  As a result, Utah Governor Gary Herbert initiated State funds to reopen the park, and minimize revenue loss.

With another Government shutdown looming, the Governor’s office issue this statement Thursday:

“Gov. Herbert is closely monitoring the situation in Washington D.C. and the possibility of a federal government shutdown. If the issue is not resolved by Monday, he will direct all state agencies to begin implementing their contingency plans. All state agencies have contingency plans of action in place should a shutdown occur. As he did during the 2013 shutdown, the governor will take all necessary action to mitigate the potential impacts of a shutdown. He urges Congress at this time to work together for the greater good of the country.”

The impact of a shutdown reaches far beyond National Parks, however.  The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) which offers assistance to millions of low-income individuals in the form of food stamps, says assistance could be cut if a budget isn’t reached.

Gina Cornia with Utahns Against Hunger says it’s a move that caught her off guard.

“In 2013, during the last shutdown, we didn’t see this,” Cornia said.  Two years ago, SNAP assistance was continued despite the shutdown.  Cornia estimates that 90,000 Utah households will be affected, or 225,000 individuals.

“People wouldn’t be able to buy groceries, it would be a mess.”