21 Aug 2014
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Fairfax County Chair Bulova: 'Critical Assistance to Families in Need May Soon Run Out if Shutdown Continues'

WIC assistance to pregnant women and children could soon also be impacted.

Fairfax County Chair Bulova: 'Critical Assistance to Families in Need May Soon Run Out if Shutdown Continues'

Wednesday, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova met with the area's "Big Four" to discuss the harmful effects the government shutdown is having among the four largest jurisdictions in the D.C. Metro area.

Bulova met in Washington, D.C. with Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, Montgomery County Executive Isaiah Leggett and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray in Gray's office, where the four officials "pledged to continue their regional cooperation, should the shutdown continue to cause economic hardship and fiscal uncertainty in the region," Bulova said.

“The shutdown of the federal government, and the continued inaction on the federal debt limit, is having a substantial effect on our region,” Bulova said after the meeting. "All of us were seeing signs of a slow and steady recovery from the Great Recession, but that progress is being hurt by the uncertainty and real economic hardships being created by the federal government.”

Bulova stressed that with the prolonged shutdown, the country "is fast approaching the point where critical assistance to families may run out."

“We are not just talking about the already devastating effect this is having on our residents. We are quickly approaching the point where federal assistance that allows poor families to purchase infant formula and other food assistance for children will no longer be available," she said. "Thousands could be affected - we cannot let this happen."

Speaking about the broader economic effects, Bulova said "uncertainty will have a lasting negative effect on the regional economy."

“From an economic and revenue standpoint, the biggest impact of the shutdown is on consumer spending and confidence,” Bulova stated. “The bottom line is that people and businesses are uncertain; they are uncertain about the economy, uncertain whether to invest or hire an additional worker, and uncertain if they will even go to work the next day."

"Local governments across the country are in similar states of uncertainty," she continued. "With sequestration, the government shutdown, furloughs, and concern about the federal government defaulting on its debt, local government is all the more stressed.”

Bulova's office offered the following statistics as proof of how the shutdown is affecting Fairfax County:

  • Currently, Fairfax County’s budget for the next fiscal year, 2015, is facing a projected $25-million shortfall. "We are still struggling from the impact of The Great Recession and a slow, tepid recovery," Bulova said.
  • Federal civilian employment is about 25,000, or about 4 percent of all the jobs in the county. This means about $150 million in income is lost each day the federal government is shutdown.
  • More than 4,000 companies in the county are federal contractors. Federal procurement contracts in FY 2012 represent over $26 billion. During the 1995-1996 shutdown, one-fifth of federal contracts were put on hold, with many employees furloughed.  Many of these contractors were not reimbursed.
  • Fairfax County is already experiencing falling revenues, in part due to the sequester and furloughs. The shutdown will have further ripple effects on County revenues.  

Some examples of the County's falling revenues include:

  • Sales tax receipts have decreased for three consecutive months, and if receipts decline at this rate throughout the fiscal year, the County stands to lose $9 million or more, further adding to its projected shortfall.
  • If Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) taxes trend the direction of sales taxes, as they most always do, the negative economic effects would be an additional $10 million. 

Bulova's office added, if Congress does not act to avert a shutdown soon, there will be a large impact on local human services agencies as well, such as:

  • After Nov. 1, The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program will see operations affected, directly impacting over 2,000 pregnant women, 4,000 infants and 10,000 children.
  • The local Community Services Board (CSB) will have to cease adult mental health outpatient services to more than 400 people, and 255 clients would not receive help for substance use disorders.
  • Housing vouchers to help people stay in their homes would be lost to more than 3,000 households.
  • Local nonprofit and community faith organizations are already stretched, with not enough resources to fill demand.

Do you think the shutdown will be over soon? What are your biggest concerns as far as local effects of the shutdown? Tell us in the comments below.


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