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How government shutdown could affect Vermonters - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

How government shutdown could affect Vermonters

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Jeb Spaulding Jeb Spaulding
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Some young students are enjoying the last couple of hours of the week at the King Street Center in Burlington. But the looming federal shutdown could mean significant cuts here and closures at similar facilities in Vermont and across the nation.

"Shutting the government down will slow down economic growth and job creation and it will also mean that many Vermont federal employees will not get a paycheck they deserve," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.

Sanders says 5,000 federally-employed Vermonters would likely be affected if the government shuts down Oct. 1. He says Social Security and similar payments should continue, but processing could be slowed. Vermont National Guard members may face furloughs but haven't received orders yet.

"Certainly if a shutdown went for long that could pose real problems for the state," Vt. Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding said.

Spaulding says he expects the crisis to be averted or short. He says the state could tap rainy day funds to float the federal drain.

"Certainly many if not most of them we don't have the capacity to pick up from the federal government," Spaulding said.

Food stamps and school lunch programs are set to lose dough. Head Start faces cutbacks on top of continuing cuts from last year's sequester. The state's association chairman says the cuts-- realized and looming-- make it hard to focus on their mission of providing services to low-income students and families.

"The most vulnerable at-risk children and families in the state," said Paul Behrman of Champlain Valley Head Start.

Sequester cuts totaled $800,000 in Vermont and meant the program no longer had space for 233 of the state's approximately 1,600 students. The state's programs are currently funded through October.

"If the government remains in shutdown, come that point, we'd have real concerns about keeping our doors open," Behrman said.

The Senate passed a measure Friday afternoon in an attempt to end the legislative stalemate. The House may choose to accept or reject it, but the two sides must reach agreement before Tuesday arrives to avoid at least temporary collateral consequences. Problems from a shutdown would be compounded if lawmakers cannot reach a deal on how to handle the country's debt.

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