Government shutdown's impact on Arkansas

    10:46 PM, Apr 7, 2011   |    comments
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    UNDATED (KTHV) -- With the possibility of a government shutdown become more real by the hour, Arkansans want to know how it will affect them. Only hours away from a government shutdown that could cripple the country's recovery process,

    Congressman Tim Griffin says the House has done its part. They are simply waiting for the Senate to follow suit.

    "We are going to keep putting as much pressure as we can on the Senate and the President to meet these goals we believe the American people agree with and that is fund government, fund military, but cut spending."

    Spending that Griffin says has landed the country $14 trillion in debt.

    "We've got to find more money to trim not because the programs aren't good but because we are bankrupt. We're broke."

    Democrats, though, say the cuts go too far and hurt important programs.

    The House passed a measure Thursday afternoon that would prevent the shutdown, funding the Department of Defense for the rest of the year and give Congress another week to discuss other funding.

    But Republican Congressman Rick Crawford says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democratic Party are refusing to pass it.

    "We are engaged militarily around the world. We have troops down range and they are not willing to pay our troops that are in harm's way. Their families are depending on them and our entire country is depending on them and I think it's a travesity they won't pay our military."

    Griffin says the stakes are high and Congress must do whatever it can to prevent a halt to government operations. "This will be a serious shutdown in a way that 1995 was."

    Today's THV contacted Democratic Senator Mark Pryor and Democratic Representative Mike Ross, but did not receive a comment.

    Talks continued Thursday evening at the White House with Democrat and Republican leaders but still no resolution to the budget battle.

    President Obama said Thursday night both parties have narrowed down their differences but more work's ahead to avoid a shutdown in just more than 24 hours.

    The potential impacts could mean the Internal Revenue Service would close and your tax refund checks would be delayed.

    Also federal grants that cities and counties apply for to help fund local projects would be delayed or stopped.  And hundreds of thousands of workers could be furloughed. CBS News reports that notices have already been sent to 800,000 government employees, saying they could be furloughed first thing Saturday morning.

    You will still get your Social Security checks. Medicare will be mailed as usual. The federal school lunch program for students will also remain funded. But small business loans won't and neither will government-backed mortgages. That could delay some home closings and put buyers and sellers in limbo.

    And, if you're among the 200,000 people waiting for passports, you may have to postpone that trip because those workers won't be around.

    We did get a chance today to speak with some our congressional leaders in Washington. The Republicans, especially, argue senate leaders are stalling negotiations.

    Congressman Rick Crawford of Jonesboro went as far as authoring a letter Thursday, asking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to step down.

    "As I said in the letter, if he's not up to the challenge and I suspect somebody else over there is, I would welcome a challenge of leadership and I think so would the American people and if he can't lead I think certainly somebody ought too," Representative Crawford said.

    Around 90 representatives signed that letter from Crawford. We didn't get a response Thursday for interviews from Arkansas' democratic delegation. But Democratic Senator Harry Reid said earlier Thursday that he was disappointed with no resolution but pleased they're still working on getting there.

    We know of at least one place offering financial help if those federal paychecks don't come in as usual. And that's the Arkansas Federal Credit Union.

    They have around 84,000 members state-wide, many current and retired military and federal government workers.

    The credit union's CEO Larry Biernacki says they're standing by them right now with possible loan extensions. And even paycheck deposits if they have a strong history of that member's paycheck coming in.  

    "At the end of the day because they're members we're going to treat them a little different than for-profit organizations and we're going to reach out and touch them should they require help during this potential government shutdown," Biernacki said.

    Biernacki went on to say the credit union often plans for the future as part of its work so that should come in handy if a government shut down happens. He urges all credit union members to call their local office if they have any concerns over this pending situation.

    The Arkansas Credit Union has a large membership from the Little Rock Air Force Base; in fact that's a big part of how it started. 






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