When the federal government shut down on Oct. 1, federal workers were furloughed and monuments closed. It was only a matter of time before the shutdown heavily impacted New Hampshire.
That could have meant layoffs for state workers whose jobs are fully or partially funded by federal programs, which is why the SEA and Gov. Hassan agreed earlier this week to allow furloughs instead of layoffs. Thankfully, the shutdown ended before state workers were furloughed. For the time being, it appears the threat is over.
Ken Roos, the SEA’s first vice president, works at the Department of Health and Human Services and said that some programs there, such as health facilities field inspectors, were told to cut back as funding ran thin. He applauded the news that lawmakers had reached a deal.
“I think it’s great, and now people can get back to doing the jobs they do day in day out — it’s what they live for,” Roos said. “And the people of our state and the country can continue to get the services they need.”
Roos said he was concerned the problem could come up again, as the deal reached Wednesday night is only a temporary fix.
“I hope Congress has learned a lesson from this, and we don’t go down this road again in January,” he said. “I know this is a well-worn phrase, but we need to stop kicking the can down the road.”
While the impact of the shutdown was limited before it really hit state agencies, it’s possible we could be seeing the same fight again in January, when government funding runs out again. Before a solution was reached, the SEA put together a frequently asked questions document on possible furloughs, and while we want to emphasize that furloughs are not happening now, it’s important for state workers to understand how these provisions would have worked. If we face a shutdown in January, knowing more about them just might come in handy.
You can read the FAQ here.
In the meantime, if you’d like to do something, you can reach out to the members of our Congressional delegation and let them know that we need a long-term solution. Here is their contact info:
Senator Kelly Ayotte – 202-224-3324.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen – 202-224-2841.
Representative Annie Kuster – 202-225-5206.
Representative Carol Shea-Porter – 202-225-5456.