The partial government shutdown could be affecting the safety of Pennsylvanians, forcing cancellation of some training sessions for first responders that involve federal agencies, and delaying a report on managing drinking water contaminated by chemicals on military bases in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday.
Overall, Wolf said, the longest government shutdown in U.S. history — which has entered its second month — has had a wide range of impacts on the state, and the state is trying to lessen them where it can.
To assist affected federal workers, who face another missed paycheck Friday, Pennsylvania is joining other states in waiving work-search and registration requirements for those seeking unemployment benefits as the shutdown continues. Some 12,600 federal employees in Pennsylvania are either furloughed or working without pay, according to the left-leaning Center for American Progress.
The state is assisting businesses that are waiting to hear from the Small Business Administration about loans.
“I hope that the president will agree to accept the bipartisan funding bills and continue his fight over the wall for another day without the pain of this shutdown for workers, their families, and their communities," Wolf said in a statement. "It is time for this to end before the consequences are even more dire.”
Among the agencies affected by the shutdown is the Department of Homeland Security, which provides funding for state emergency-management operations, and that has been a factor in the cancellation of first-responder training sessions, Wolf said.
The shutdown also could affect social-service programs. The state will use prior-year federal funds to continue Temporary Assistance for Needy Families payments through at least mid-April, Wolf said. The Women, Infants and Children Program is federally funded through February.
Pennsylvania has spent about $11 million in state funds to fill gaps in federal funding as the shutdown continues. The state has given about $4 million for a program that funds 100,500 child-care spots for low-income families. An additional $7 million has gone to urban and rural public transportation agencies for operating and capital costs.
The state also is paying the salaries of employees at state agencies that the federal government normally funds.
The federal government will reimburse the state, said Wolf spokesperson J.J. Abbott.
Unlike Pennsylvania, New Jersey has not had to shell out money to fill gaps in federal funding for major programs, said Jennifer Sciortino, spokesperson at New Jersey’s Office of the Treasurer.
“We are monitoring actions at the federal level closely and [the Office of Management and Budget] is in continual contact with each state department to stay informed on any new issues that may arise as the shutdown continues,” Sciortino said in a statement.