By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog
SPRINGFIELD — The government that most people know, and millions of people in Illinois use, is not going anywhere.
Lost in all the hype about a possible federal government shutdown is the reality that for most people, nothing will change.
But here are three people or groups in Illinois who will notice a government shutdown in Washington D.C.
In Illinois, it is almost a rite of passage to climb on to the school bus, rumble down the interstate for a few hours and end-up at the Lincoln Home in Springfield.
But in a government shutdown, Honest Abe’s two-story home will be closed to the public.
“That’d been like Marty Moose, only kidding,” Brian Bartley from Springfield MO joked about Chevy’s Chase’s meltdown in the movie “Vacation,” as Bartley got ready to tour the Lincoln Home on Monday.
Bartley said if the Lincoln home was closed, “We’d have just gone somewhere else.”
Bartley drove to Lincoln’s home. But tourists looking to fly to another country may be out of luck.
Passport services will stop as part of a government shutdown. If you have a passport, you’ll be able to come and go. But if you have waited to apply for a passport, your trip may depend on when the federal government once again opens for business.
Did you know that the Department of Commerce runs an office of International Trade Administration?
No? Neither did most other people.
Dozens, if not hundreds, of minor federal offices will be closed. Eventually that could have an impact on the thousands of state agencies or local nonprofits that have received federal grants.
The Department of Commerce has an 87 page document that lays out what will be impacted by a government shutdown, or a “lapse of appropriation” as they call it.
But what about the millions of people who depend on the federal government for benefits. For the most part, they will not notice a thing.
Here are three groups who will not notice a government shutdown.
Two million Illinois residents will see their Link Cards reloaded on Tuesday. And that will happen, no matter what.
SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, will not be stopped by a government shutdown.
“The state government isn’t shutting down,” said Kristinia Rasmussen, vice president of the Illinois Policy Institute, who noted that the state essentially runs the food stamp program. “A lot of the benefits (that will continue) are entitlements and happen regardless of needing a resolution.”
The federal government pays for nearly half of Illinois’ $17 billion a year Medicaid program. That will not change if the federal government closes its doors for a while.
Hospitals, doctors, pharmacies and nursing homes will not feel a pinch from a federal shutdown. They are, however, feeling a pinch from Illinois’ ineptitude. The state owes Medicaid providers billions of dollars dating back five months, according to Mike Dropka, a spokesman for the Illinois Comptroller’s office. In all, Illinois owes nearly $7 billion in past due bills.
If you are cold in Illinois this week, it’s because you’re outside at night or in the air conditioning. It is expected to be in the 80s all week, according to the forecast from the National Weather Service. And the Weather Service offices will stay open during a government shutdown.
Ciaran Clayton, director of communications for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said “weather, water and climate observing, prediction, warning, forecast and support” will continue if the government in D.C. shuts down.
So, if much of the government isn’t shut down by a shutdown, what’s the point?
“You begin to understand, we’re paying all this money and a lot of what government does is not having a direct or positive impact on our lives. Why do we need it?” Rasmussen asked. “And are we a bit freer if government shuts down for a day or two a week?”
Contact Benjamin Yount at BYount@Watchdog.org and find him on Twitter @BenYount.
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