How shutdown hurts California programs & budget

California won’t take too much of a hit in the short term, but stands to lose a lot if the federal government shutdown lasts more than a brief time, according to the state Department of Finance.

Deputy Director H.D. Palmer said federal funds for unemployment insurance benefits, MediCal, and supplemental security income/state supplementary payment grants for the elderly, blind or disabled will continue uninterrupted.

But while there’s enough money to keep the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – formerly called food stamps – afloat through October for the 1.9 million California households that rely on it, that funding will dry up in November. It’s the same scenario for school nutrition programs that serve 4.5 million meals per day mostly to low-income students. And money for the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program will last only through late November. (I’d link to the SNAP and WIC programs, but the shutdown already has affected their web pages.)

“The longer this goes on, the greater uncertainty there will be for funding some of these programs,” Palmer said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, California – home to more federal employees than Washington, D.C., – will see a lot of government workers not drawing paychecks, and thus unable to spend their money in their communities or pay their bills. Communities near national parks such as Yosemite will suffer even more while those parks are shuttered, cutting off the tourist flow.

But the worst of it come if Congress refuses to raise the nation’s debt ceiling by Oct. 17 and the nation defaults on its debt, Palmer said. The resulting financial market instability could decimate the capital gains and stock options on which California depends for a huge chunk of its tax revenue, he said, blowing a big, red hole in a state budget that only recently was brought back into the black.


Dems can’t stop GOP ag spending bill

The House today voted 217-203 to pass H.R. 2112, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food & Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2012, which Democrats say would cut 400,000 to 550,000 eligible low-income women and young children from the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.

No Democrats supported the bill; 19 Republicans opposed it.

Critics said the bill also would undermine food safety efforts, increasing the risk of food-borne illnesses, as well as risk another financial crisis and drive up gas prices by defunding the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, the Education and the Workforce Committee’s ranking Democrat, issued a statement saying the bill “is harmful, ineffective and plays politics with our children’s health.”

“WIC is a necessity for thousands of moms and their children, and these cuts are a slap in the face to those who rely on these services to help feed their families. There is no place for partisan politics when it comes to the well-being of our children,” Miller said. “The Republicans also roll back important and historic substantive changes we made to the school meals program last Congress. For millions of children, the meals they eat at school serve as a nutritional safety net – denying these children healthy options at school is just another example of House Republicans choosing to prioritize oil companies and big business instead of the children who need our help the most.”

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Kent., said the bill “answers the call from Americans to reduce government spending while still providing for critical programs that keep American agriculture competitive in a global economy.

“The funding in this bill will help our rural communities to thrive, provide daily nutrition to children and families across the country, and keep our food and drug supply safe,” Rogers said. “This legislation will also help to put the Department of Agriculture, the FDA, and other agencies back on a sustainable budget path that is accountable to the taxpayers of this country.”

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, spoke against it repeatedly on the House floor:

More of Garamendi’s opposition to the bill, after the jump…
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