The partial shutdown of the federal government is not merely a partisan squabble in Washington. It is eating away at Ohio’s quality of life.
More than 75,000 federal employees live and work in Ohio. Last week, as many as 7,000 of them filed claims for unemployment insurance, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. If the shutdown persists much longer, that number is sure to grow.
At least one-third of the money in Ohio’s state budget comes from federal sources, some of them now uncertain. For some state agencies that provide health and human services, two-thirds of their funding comes from Washington, says the liberal research and advocacy group Policy Matters Ohio. If the shutdown extends into November, services to disabled, elderly, and very young Ohioans will be seriously affected, Policy Matters says.
Lake Erie’s toxic algae bloom is not monitored by federal agencies. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite images and a Web site that watch and forecast the bloom are shut.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has stopped processing mortgage applications used by would-be buyers to purchase homes in rural and exurban Ohio communities. Furloughs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Veterans Affairs have slowed down handling of home loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration and VA.
Applicants can’t get financing for properties in flood zones because the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which issues flood insurance, is closed. The Internal Revenue Service has stopped processing requests for tax transcripts from third parties, such as financial institutions. Lenders often request such proof of income before they approve loans.
At the Four Seagate building in Toledo, the elevator isn’t stopping at the IRS’ second-floor office. The U.S. Attorney’s office has furloughed more than half its support staff. The Social Security office is open, but is not issuing new or replacement Social Security cards or replacing Medicare cards.
The Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial at Put-in-Bay, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and parts of Wayne National Forest also are closed during the shutdown.
The shutdown is not just foreclosing Ohioans’ future. It’s also foreclosing our present. It needs to end now.
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