As the partial government shutdown approaches the end of its fourth week, Wisconsin agencies are reporting fairly limited impacts to the services they provide.
But depending on how long the political battle over border security remains unresolved, the situation could jeopardize crucial programs for low-income residents or force municipalities to tap their own reserve funds.
City of Madison
Mayor Paul Soglin said Wednesday the longer the shutdown drags on, the more programs supported by federal funding — such as the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program (WIC), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Head Start — could be affected.
Soglin said the city can tap reserve funds to keep programs running into the summer, but that’s not ideal.
The shutdown also delays the grant process for divisions such as the Police Department and Metro Transit system. Grants already awarded won’t be reimbursed to the city until after the federal government reopens, he said.
The state Department of Workforce Development reported Tuesday that 426 unemployment claims by federal workers were filed between Jan. 7 and Jan. 11. There are more than 29,000 federal workers in the state.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ administration encouraged furloughed federal workers to apply for unemployment benefits to help them while they are not collecting their federal paychecks.
Federal workers who are still on the job but not being paid are unable to collect state unemployment benefits. And those who receive back pay would be required to repay any unemployment benefits received.
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Dane County Regional Airport
Some airports around the country are experiencing longer security lines due to an uptick in unpaid Transportation Security Administration employees calling in sick.
But security lines at the Dane County Regional Airport are flowing at normal speeds, according to airport spokesman Brent Kyzer-McHenry.
“Business as usual,” he said.
A recorded message for Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, a unit of the National Park Service, said “offices and the visitor’s center are closed. We don’t know when we will reopen.”
The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest office in Rhinelander also “is closed due to the lapse in federal government funding,” its recorded message said Wednesday.
Water, forest research
In Madison, the federally funded Forest Products Laboratory is closed, according to a Wednesday office recording. The office conducts research for the U.S. Forest Service.
No one answered the phone at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Water Science Center in Middleton. “Websites displaying real-time data, such as Earthquake and Water and information needed for public health and safety will be updated with limited support,” according to a note at the top of the survey’s website. The office monitors water levels and water quality in Wisconsin.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.