A frustrated Gov. Steve Beshear laid out the impacts of a prolonged federal government shutdown on the Commonwealth today -- a possibility that he said will have immediate and painful effects on millions of Kentuckians, many of them poor, elderly or young children. Funds for many critical programs will evaporate Nov. 1, and the state has limited recourse to remedy those losses.
"I am both disgusted and heartsick about the continued antics in Washington, D.C. Our elected leaders seem to forget that their actions -- or rather, inactions -- have real effect on citizens," said Gov. Beshear. "Here in Kentucky, we have pregnant mothers who will lose access to healthy groceries; families who will lose access to child care and elderly citizens who won't be able to afford their heating bills as we approach cold weather."
"These are not the actions of a government attuned to the needs of its people," he continued. "These are the actions of a privileged few so divorced from the day-to-day lives of their constituents that the suffering is a political afterthought, something to be managed after the cameras leave. In Kentucky, we put people first, politics second. It apparently doesn't work that way in Washington."
Approximately $8 billion in federal funds flow through Kentucky's state government every year, but more than 85 percent of those funds are not impacted by the shutdown. Some programs, such as Medicaid, already have funds appropriated to them. For other programs, such as highway construction, permanent appropriations are set in statute and are not subject to annual approvals. A full list of those federal programs not affected by the shutdown is attached.
That leaves about $900 million in annual spending for programs that are currently at risk of complete closure -- an average of $75 million monthly for federal programs operating in Kentucky.
Gov. Beshear pledged that state government would do its best to keep those programs operational past Nov. 1 and would evaluate available cash flow closer to the end of the month.
"We have to weigh our options carefully," said Gov. Beshear. "Even if we have available funds to spend on supporting these federal programs, we currently have no guarantee that the federal government will reimburse us for those costs. If we aren't reimbursed, we will have to make cuts in those federal services, or allow them to lapse altogether, in order to balance our books by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2014. There are no good options here for the state or for our citizens."