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Oregon officials preparing for federal shutdown

Sep 28, 2013


By The Associated Press

SALEM — State officials are evaluating what impact a partial shutdown of the federal government would have for Oregon.

State agencies were asked this week to submit information about cash flows for federally funded programs, and whether they would be affected by a shutdown of less than two weeks. Michael Jordan, the state's chief operating officer, said he would meet with Gov. John Kitzhaber and others if there is a need to plan for a “prolonged” shutdown.

House Republicans on Saturday moved the government closer to a shutdown, insisting that President Barack Obama's health care law be delayed a year.

Millions of dollars for Oregon programs could be affected if Congress fails to resolve its budget deadlock. State programs such as Medicaid would be shielded, but welfare and food stamps for low-income families could be affected.

“It's all about cash flow,” Brian DeForest, the state's deputy chief financial officer, told the Statesman Journal newspaper. "We can endure a shutdown of about 30 days."

The potential impact was being assessed by officials from the Department of Administrative Services, the Oregon State Treasury, Department of Human Services and Oregon Health Authority.

The human services agency oversees welfare and food stamps, which depend on annual amounts from Congress. The federal transfers to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as they are known officially, are not made daily.

The health agency oversees Medicaid, the joint federal and state program of health insurance for low-income people. Medicaid also pays nursing home costs for some older low-income people who have drawn down their assets. Like Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid is considered an entitlement program and is shielded from the shutdown.

DeForest said state officials will meet Monday, the deadline for Congress to act.

“We have three days of severe weather coming our way and a special (legislative) session starting Monday,” he said Friday. “The last thing we need is a federal shutdown.”

It's uncertain how many of the 28,000 federal workers in Oregon would be affected by a partial shutdown. The president has wide discretion to classify which workers are deemed essential and would not be furloughed.

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Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com

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