South Carolinians are watching the budget debate in Congress with apprehension because a shutdown of the federal government will impact South Carolina in several ways.
The severity of the impact on our state will depend largely on the length of a federal shutdown. Several agencies in South Carolina have stated that a shutdown of just a few days will have a minimal effect, if any, on residents. However, if the shutdown were to continue, the state would have to decide if it would fund federally funded positions within the state and how it would fund those salaries.
A shutdown of the federal government will not affect all government agencies and employees. Government employees whose work is deemed necessary for the safety of life will be required to continue working; however, they will not be paid until the government shutdown ends. South Carolinians will face the same disruption of services that other Americans face because of a federal shutdown including:
* Social Security offices will be closed so people cannot seek help with problems even though checks will still be mailed
* Medicare recipients will receive payments; however, medical providers could experience delays in payments for services
* National parks, forests and wildlife refuges will close
* The FHA will stop processing mortgage loans which could cost potential homeowners thousands of dollars in fees, interest and costs
* The Small Business Administration will cease granting loans and loan guarantees which may disrupt small businesses
* The IRS will stop processing paper returns thereby delaying receipt of refunds for those who filed paper returns
* Thousands of federal employees furloughed without pay (possibly 11,000 in South Carolina )
In addition to the numerous affects of a federal government shutdown felt by all Americans, those in South Carolina are already dealing with two specific problems arising from the threat of a government shutdown.
Civil War anniversary events in South Carolina
If a federal government shutdown occurs, the National Park Service will cease operations at midnight tomorrow. This is the same that hundreds of Civil War re-enactors are traveling from across the country to begin camping at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor and Fort Moultrie on Sullivans Island.
The events to celebrate the Civil War sesquicentennial have been planned for years. Fort Sumter is scheduled to play a huge role in the events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first shots fired in the Civil War. However, if the government shuts down, Fort Sumter will be closed meaning no visitors will be allowed during the celebration.
If the shutdown continued, events planned for next Thursday to re-enact the Union surrender to Confederates would also be canceled. The impact for Charleston and the state of South Carolina has not yet been estimated; however, beyond the disappointment of thousands of Americans scheduled to take part in the events to celebrate the Civil War anniversary, the economic loss from tourism will be devastating to South Carolina.
South Carolina businesses with ties to federal contracts
Several businesses within South Carolina have government contracts that could be affected by a government shutdown. Two businesses are located in upstate South Carolina -- Flour and Lockheed Martin -- and both have been preparing for the possibility of a federal government shutdown.
Lockheed Martin's chairman and CEO told Congress in a letter dated Feb. 7 that "without appropriate full-year funding decisions on national security programs, we will face costly schedule delays and breaks in production that will increase overall program costs and interrupt the delivery of critical equipment to war fighters."
A spokesman for Flour said that Flour would continue to support its government clients and customers and would deal with issues if and when they arise. Even though both companies seem committed to continue with their government contracts, if that become impossible thousands of employees in South Carolina may face layoffs or terminations. Furthermore, state revenues from the companies may suffer if a government shutdown continued.
Sophie Walton is a South Carolina resident.
- Fort Sumter
- government shutdown
- Charleston Harbor
- processing mortgage loans