Ripple Effects of Government Shutdown Touch Los Angeles County

Tue, 10/01/2013 - 11:45am

Photo: US CapitolFor the first time in seventeen years, the United State federal government has shut down all non-essential functions after the US Congress failed to meet a September 30 deadline to approve a spending plan that would keep all government services running as implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act goes into effect.

As the nation struggles to understand the immediate impact of the shutdown, several things are clear.  "Non-essential" federal workers were told not to show up to work today, while some services, like air traffic controllers, prison guards, and border control officers, are required to work without assurance of pay.  Support for military families was initially in question as well, though an Executive Order from the Office of the President may have mitigated the immediate impact of the shutdown on those serving in the nation's armed forces.

Though Los Angeles County is three thousand miles away from the nation's capital, effects of a government shutdown can already be felt here.  Early reports indicated E-Verify, the nation's tool to determine employment eligibility, was not operational early Tuesday morning.

For the arts and culture field, a government shutdown can have severe effects for employees and audiences.  Many organizations receiving direct support from the National Endowment for the Arts or the National Endowment for the Humanities may experience a delay in grant payouts, which will trickle down and impair their ability to pay staff and implement planned programs.  In 1995, a brief government shutdown reduced the NEA's staff to only six people, limiting the agency's ability to serve the national arts and culture field effectively.

While the shutdown's impact may not be immediately felt by all Americans, its length will determine the cumulative impact on communities nationwide.  For additonal information how the shutdown may affect Los Angeles County and federally-funded services, please refer to this article from Americans for the Arts's ARTSBlog.