Local tourism group Santa Barbara Adventure Company has lost $30,000 in possible revenue after eight days of a federal government shutdown, and the business is just one of many local services and groups that are hurting.
“We’ve lost a significant amount of revenue. We’ve had to do refunds and cancellations, and we’ve turned away 200 people,” Michael Cohen, the company’s owner said. “It’s really hurting my small business, which has a limited season.”
With 800,000 federal government workers furloughed and many government services now defunct as a result, Cohen and many other everyday Americans are feeling the effects of the shutdown that took effect last Tuesday.
At UCSB, funds for federal financial aid offerings, such as Pell Grants, could be jeopardized if the government fails to end the shutdown. The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships site states there will “likely not be a negative impact on educational services and financial aid programs” in the event of a “short federal government shutdown,” but it also states that a “prolonged shutdown” could be more impacting.
Michael Miller, director of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, said a long-term shutdown could negatively affect financial aid available for students for the 2014-2015 academic year. However, he said the University is already making efforts to ensure harsh effects of the recent shutdown do not reach the pockets of students.
“We are currently working on a plan to ensure our students are not negatively impacted by the shutdown,” Miller said. “The bottom line is the University of California will do all it can to shield our students from harmful effects of a short government shutdown, including — if need be — advancing UC funds to substitute for federal financial aid, so that financial aid reaches the students when promised.”
There may also be a lower availability of internships and other career opportunities related to federal government jobs, according to Brittany Manzer, internship program coordinator at UCSB Career Services. In describing the shutdown’s impact on the employment of students, Manzer said some potential employers have even ditched recruitment efforts.
“This impact can be seen in a few organizations that were forced to put their scheduled campus recruitment activities and communication on hold, until things are resolved,” Manzer said. “If the shutdown continues, it will likely affect those persons wishing to secure positions with the federal government, as job vacancies may be cancelled or simply not posted due to lack of staff.”
So far, the shutdown has resulted in the closure of over 400 national parks and museums, and other major reductions in public services, such as the lack of public housing vouchers. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will not be able to fund the 3,300 local housing authorities nationwide that provide rent vouchers, although individual authorities may hold enough private funds to continue such assistance until the end of this month.
The whopping majority of employees in several federal departments — such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Education and NASA — have been sent home until lawmakers can come to an agreement on the federal budget.
On Saturday, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill to ensure that all of these employees, and all others temporarily sent home, will receive retroactive pay. But the effects are still being felt, as the absence of many services has led to harsh, although indirect, effects on many Americans like Cohen.
For Cohen, the lack of many government services has already caused a fair amount of lost income, many unpaid payroll taxes and “a lot of pain” for all the individuals affected.
“It’s hurting the economy, and it has a ripple effect,” Cohen said. “I know other small business workers who have had to turn away hundreds of people. It’s really frustrating to see the broken government being so uncooperative.”
Congressional Representative Lois Capps made a motion yesterday that proposed funding the federal budget at a rate of $986 billion, according to a press release, which could have led to the an end to the shutdown. As she spoke on the House floor, Capps pointed to the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party as a leading crusader in the party’s strong opposition to the recently passed Affordable Care Act.
“Today is about ending the childish behavior of the Republican leadership who continue to stand in the way of reopening our government” Capps said. “We are here today because one faction of one party in one house of Congress has shut down the United States government because they don’t like one law: The Affordable Care Act.”
At a presidential press conference yesterday, President Barack Obama also called out the Republican Party on their unwillingness to reach negotiations after many Democratic lawmakers, such Capps, made proposals that “effectively reflect Republican priorities, at Republican budget levels.”