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From childcare to travel: Federal government shutdown impact on Wisconsin

The U.S. government is once again on the verge of shutting down as lawmakers are unable to agree on a new funding bill. The deadline is Oct. 1.
APTOPIX Budget Battle
Posted at 8:29 AM, Sep 28, 2023

The U.S. government is once again on the verge of shutting down as lawmakers are unable to agree on a new funding bill.

The deadline is Oct. 1.

A prolonged shutdown could have a widespread impact in Wisconsin, from furloughs for federal workers to funding for childcare and other programs.

"What we're really looking at is kids who don't have a safe, quality learning environment and parents who can't go to work," said Jennie Mauer, executive director of the Wisconsin Head Start Association.

Free federal dollars for Head Start programs in Wisconsin help 16,000 kids, their families as well as thousands of workers, according to Mauer.

For many grant holders, she said, the financial impact would not be immediate. However, a shutdown would create concern for families and staffing.

"If you have that uncertainty, and you're trying to hire someone, and they have the option to go to a place that doesn't have that same uncertainty, they're going to make that choice," said Mauer.

A failure to fund the government could also have an impact in Wisconsin on some state parks and critical food and nutritional assistance programs like SNAP and WIC. It could also hit air travel.

Essential workers such as TSA agents and air traffic controllers would still have to come to work but without pay.

"That's a major impact. A lot of stress," said Bruce Milroy with the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists.

Milroy represents those workers in Region 1, which includes Mitchell International Airport. He says a long shutdown, like one several years ago, could ultimately lead to safety concerns and delays for everyday flyers.

"The last 35-day strike we got to the point where employees simply couldn't afford to come to work anymore. We're no different from a lot of other Americans. A lot of our people work paycheck to paycheck," said Milroy.

As Republicans and Democrats remain deeply divided on a deal, the government is already advising agencies to review their shutdown plans.