How Will a Federal Government Shutdown Affect Californians?


News of a looming shutdown of the federal government has left many wondering, "what will that mean to me?" A shutdown of the federal government could affect the daily lives of Californians in a variety of ways.

Which services will be affected?

1. Lets start with some potentially good news, at least for some, the IRS will temporarily stop conducting audits.

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2. Are you a federal worker? You may be one of 800,000 federal employees who will be furloughed, and who likely will not receive back pay for the days of work you've missed. There are about 170,000 federal workers in California.

So-called "essential" federal employees like members of the military, air traffic controllers and border agents will remain on the job without pay. That means uniformed members of the military, even if those engaged in combat, will not get paid. However, such employees will likely get reimbursed with back pay.

3. Are you one of the large federal government contractors in California? Well, IBM and Lockheed Martin, you likely will not be paid. The same is true for the California Institute of Technology and the University of California, which both get large federal grants.

4. Were you thinking of going to a national park like Yosemite this weekend? Try a movie theater instead.

5. Are you a veteran who gets a military pension or disability payments? You may suffer a delay in obtaining your checks.

6. Do you want to start a business or give a small business a loan? Think twice. The Small Business Administration, which provides loans, loan guarantees, and other assistance to small businesses, would stop approving business loan guarantees.

7. Do you want to lend money to someone to buy a new home? Again, think twice. The Federal Housing Administration, which provides mortgage insurance on loans made by certain lenders, and which guaranteed close to half of home purchase mortgages last year, will stop guaranteeing new mortgages. Such insurance reduces the risk on lenders, protecting them against loses that result when homeowners default on their loans.

8. Do you need government data? The federal government will stop collecting data for everything from census data, to data on worker's legal status, to data on economic issues like commodity prices, to geological surveys.

9. Do you need a passport or visa? Go before Friday or stay home.

10. Do you live in California? You will likely be in some way affected by the shutdown because the state will lose out on precious money from tourists. Although many privately owned attractions like Disneyland and Universal Studios will remain open, there will be fewer visitors to such destinations.

Which services will not be affected?

1. You know those papers that arrive at your abode on a daily basis? They will still come. Mail service will not be affected by a government shutdown.

2. Do you depend on Social Security or Medicare? You will still get your checks, at least in the short-term. However, new applications could go unprocessed.

3. To the 70% of Americans and many Californians who file their tax returns online, you will get your refund. However, to the 30% of you who file tax returns by using paper, your refunds will be delayed.

Jessica Levinson writes about the intersection of law and government every Monday. She is an Adjunct Professor at Loyola Law School and the Director of Political Reform at a non-profit, non-partisan think tank.

The photo used on this post is by Flickr user Phil Roeder. It was used under a Creative Commons License.

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