JEFFERSON CITY — With the possibility of a federal shutdown looming, Missouri lawmakers say they are waiting to take precautions until more information from Washington is released.
The closure of the Capitol's activities expires Friday and coincides with the deadline for the budget debate in Congress. If a budget plan is not completed, federal buildings won't have the money to even turn on their lights.
As of November 2010, there were 110,562 federal employees and retirees in Missouri, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Labor. Many of these people are employed by the military. If the government shuts down they will not receive paychecks until federal legislators decide on a budget.
The last shutdown occurred in December 1995 and lasted three weeks.
State Budget Director Linda Luebbering said the effects in Missouri could depend on which Missouri programs are affected.
"Until the federal government gives us more information on what programs are impacted, it's challenging to plan because we receive federal money in buckets," Luebbering said. "What bucket they decide to cut absolutely has to be known before we can do specific planning."
In Missouri, federally funded areas of the state, such as national parks, would be closed and projects put on hold. This would include large scale construction projects waiting for Environmental Protection Agency approval as well as Missouri Department of Transportation projects that are funded partially by the federal government.
MoDOT Community Relations Coordinator Jorma Duran said this is not the time for people to panic, but there is definite potential for MoDOT projects to be affected. He said the shutdown could result in a delay of road and bridge improvements that are partially funded by the federal government.
Luebbering said her office has been monitoring the situation.
"State departments are reaching out to counterparts at the federal level, but information is in very short supply," she said.
According to Luebbering, the roughly 48,000 state employees in Missouri would not be impacted by a shutdown, as their paychecks come from state revenue.
Vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, worked for the U.S. Department of Defense for 29 years as a budget and project manager. He said a shutdown would impact citizens of every state if departments such as the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security ceased activity.