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Possible Government Shut Down Will Hurt First Responders

For anyone who has been watching Congress as of late, the shenanigans on Capitol Hill this week can feel like a bad case of déjà-vu.

A government shutdown, a potential default; didn’t we just resolve these issues a few months ago?

Congress often tends to solve problems by punting them a few months down the road, but this lack of leadership can have real consequences on local communities, and the men and women who serve them as fire fighters and emergency medical personnel.

While many observers believe Congress will find a way to avert a government shutdown, there is a real possibility that Congress will fail to act in time. If so, come October 1, 2013, funds will stop flowing for all but the most “essential” federal government operations.

In practical terms, that means that many federal government functions will cease. Federal employees whose jobs are not considered essential would be furloughed. (When the government last shut down in 1995, federal fire fighters were deemed essential and not subject to furlough.) Federal grants, such as SAFER grants to keep fire fighters on the job, will be delayed, which could result in fire fighter layoffs.

Perhaps most significantly, federal aid to states will stop flowing. Often overlooked in the discussion of a government shutdown, such aid represents about 1/3 of all state revenue. A government shutdown would have a significant negative cascading effect on local fire department budgets.

In sum, a government shutdown would cause significant harm to our nation’s fire fighters and fire departments.   

The following chart shows the percentage of your state’s income comes from Washington




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