Shutdown Hits Minn. With Furloughs, Economic Pain

Updated: 10/01/2013 6:00 AM By: Stephen Tellier

With the government shutting down, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS wanted to focus on the thousands of Minnesotans who could feel the impact of a shutdown as soon as Tuesday.

Workers would be furloughed, parks shut down, and the economy could take a big hit -- if a shutdown isn't avoided.

There was bit of good news for Minnesota's military families on Monday. The Senate voted to send a bill to President Obama's desk that will prevent paychecks for active-duty military members from being delayed.

Also, you will still get your mail. Social Security and unemployment benefits will continue. The VA hospital will remain open. And there had been confusion over whether home buyers could still get federal loans -- they can.

Now, the bad news. About 1,100 support staff with the Minnesota National Guard would be furloughed. The same goes for some of the 18,000 federal employees living in this state.

Jane Nygaard, national vice president with the American Federation of Government Employees, said all federal workers are still expected to show up to work on Tuesday morning. Some will be sent home -- the others will work, but won't get paid until the shutdown ends.

"I think it's pathetic. I think the national constitution says involuntary servitude is illegal, so I don't know how they can make people work for no wages," Nygaard said.

Those furloughs mean federal agencies will partially shut down. That means some routine food inspections won't happen. But Dr. Ted Labuza, a food science professor at the University of Minnesota, said you shouldn't be concerned.

"A typical plant will get inspected once every six to seven years, so it's up to the companies to be logical, honest," Labuza said.

What has raised concerns are furloughs at the CDC, which could slow its flu prevention efforts at the worst possible time of year. The agency might not be able to run its annual flu program, or help states track the spread of the flu.

Other impacts include a slowdown in federal loans to students and small businesses, and a shutdown of all national parks, including five in Minnesota.

Many have feared passports would no longer be issued during a shutdown. But the State Department said it will continue to process those applications.

Some federal agencies just came out with shutdown plans on Monday, so some of the impacts will only become known in the coming days. But the last government shutdown, in the mid-1990's, lasted more than three weeks, and cost the country about $1.4 billion.