Senator Edward Markey warns shutdown would impact thousands in Massachusetts
WASHINGTON _ A series of federal programs Bay State residents rely on -- including getting help with Social Security benefits, college loans, veterans health services and Head Start -- would be cut or delayed if the federal government is forced to close due to Congress’s inability to reach a compromise on spending priorities, Senator Edward J. Markey warned Thursday.
“If the government shuts down, hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents would have services and benefits shut off,” the Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement.
Among the hardest hit, he said, would be nearly 200,00 seniors who could be denied Social Security services while the government is not operating. Also affected could be thousands of children who rely on Head Start, the pre-school program already forced to remove 2,000 kids across the state due to recent spending cuts known as sequester.
Here is the list, as prepared by Markey’s office in a press release, showing the programs that would be impacted:
-- Social Security Checks: The 185,788 recipients of Social Security in Massachusetts could be denied services (such as staff answering phones) because of the shutdown. And applications for new benefits would be delayed.
-- Armed Forces: A shutdown could delay military pay and hurt military families. In Massachusetts, there are more than 3,000 active duty personnel, more than 15,000 Reserve and National Guard members and almost 7,000 civilians who would be affected by a shutdown. The Department of Defense estimates that during a shutdown nearly half of the civilian workforce would be sent home without pay, while the rest would continue to work for delayed pay. Service members would also stay on duty without pay.
-- Head Start: A government shutdown could force Head Start Centers around the country to close. During 2012, 29 Head Start programs throughout Massachusetts served approximately 16,500 children and families. Massachusetts Head Start programs were already reeling from funding reductions due to sequestration, with more than 2,000 kids estimated to have been removed from the program.
-- Small Business Loans: During the past 11 months, Massachusetts banks made more than 2,000 SBA loans worth more than $602 million to small businesses. A shutdown would put a stop to this critical source of small business credit until the government resumes operation.
-- Veterans benefits: The processing of new educational, pay, and pension benefits for the 394,000 Massachusetts veterans could be delayed. During the 1995-96 shutdowns, more than 400,000 veterans nationwide saw their disability benefits and pension claims delayed, while educational benefits were delayed for 170,000 veterans.
-- College: Colleges could be unable to draw down and disburse to students any campus-based program awards such as work-study or the Federal Perkins Loan Program if the government shuts down on Tuesday. Last school year, 42,000 students in Massachusetts utilized work-study while Perkins impacted over 24,000 students in the Commonwealth.
-- National Parks and Historic Sites: In a shutdown, the more than 400 National Park Service sites nationwide could close. This includes 18 sites in Massachusetts, including Faneuil Hall, John F. Kennedy’s birthplace, the Adams National Historical Park, Salt Pond Visitor Center on Cape Cod, and Minute Man National Historical Park.
-- Federal Contractors: After the Fiscal Year 1996 shutdown, a survey showed that over 20 percent federal contractors were affected and many employees of federal contractors reportedly were furloughed without pay. In Fiscal Year 2011, 5,430 Massachusetts businesses received approximately $16.7 billion in federal contracts. A shutdown similar to the one in 1996 could affect more than 1,000 Massachusetts businesses and their employees, delaying contract awards and furloughing employees.Bryan Bender can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeBender