If there isn’t an agreement in Washington on raising the debt ceiling and there is a lengthy federal government shutdown, Florida may not be prepared to deal with the consequences. The state depends on 24 billion federal dollars to meet its obligations and if Congress doesn’t reach a deal, that money will be in jeopardy.
80- year old Patty Parkhurst is fed up with the stalemate in Washington over government spending and the debt ceiling. “I don’t know who to call. I don’t know what to do to influence them, as if I could influence them, but they influence my lifestyle.”
That’s because Patty, like most seniors, receives Social Security and Medicare and if Congress can’t reach a deal by August 2nd those programs could be at least partially shut down. “I depend on those checks at the first of the month.”
Seniors aren’t the only ones worried. The disabled, military, and the nearly two million Floridians on food stamps all rely on Uncle Sam. And so does the state. One third, or about 24 billion dollars, of Florida’s budget is federal money. It funds everything from roads to schools.
Robert Weissert, the Vice President for Research at Florida TaxWatch, says if the debate rages long past the deadline there will be cuts in the state budget.
“If we reach a doomsday scenario on August 3rd, funding for all kinds of programs including education, transportation would be at risk.”
Governor Rick Scott doesn’t think Congress will let a doomsday scenario play out. “I don’t think that is going to happen.”
We called the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Transportation and the Agency for Health Care Administration to see if they were working on plans to deal with less money from Washington. They all denied our request for an interview.
Florida receives some federal money annually, some quarterly and some is reimbursed. So even if the deadline comes and federal money is cut off, the state will still have enough to put off major decisions for at least a little while.