JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The federal government shutdown that has idled hundreds of thousands of workers is starting to ripple through states.
States are now laying off employees and warning of thousands of additional furloughs if the budget stalemate is not resolved soon.
Across the nation, about a dozen states already have furloughed hundreds of employees whose paychecks depend on federal money. The layoffs have hit civilians at state National Guard bureaus, workplace safety inspectors and state workers who determine eligibility for Social Security disability benefits, among others.
More state employees could be furloughed this coming week.
“For me, it couldn’t have come at a worse time,” said Tammy Turner-Lee, a 54-year-old supervisor in Oklahoma’s disability determination office who is targeted to be furloughed on Friday. “My husband is going through chemotherapy right now. … If we are in furlough status, that means I am going to have to go into credit card debt.”
Medicaid, the biggest federally funded state program, has remained exempt from the cutbacks. But federal officials have said other big state-administered programs — like food aid for low-income families — may have only enough money to make it through October.
Some states have avoided furloughs by tapping into accumulated federal funds while others are dipping into state coffers.
Maryland has continued to pay 11,000 employees because the Legislature set aside $100 million to plug holes created by federal budget battles. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback dipped into cash reserves to avoid 119 furloughs and reinstate dozens of others in an office that handles unemployment benefits.