What does a government shutdown mean for New York?

The federal government is poised to shut down after midnight on Tuesday for the first time in 17 years. While only federal agencies will be directly affected, New York state and local governments will feel the pinch.

Philip Joyce, a professor of management, finance and leadership at the University of Maryland, told governing.com that citizens may turn to state and local governments expecting them to pick up the slack because at ground level they don’t really care much about distinctions between different levels of government.

Here are six ways the shutdown could affect New York:

1. With the one-year anniversary of superstorm Sandy coming, local governments in the tri-state area are waiting for new flood maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But under a government shutdown, FEMA’s Risk-Mapping program will be closed, delaying the all-important maps used to make insurance determinations for homeowners.

2. The Office of Child Nutrition Programs, which runs the federal free and reduced-price school lunch programs, is funded through the end of October, but in the case of a prolonged shutdown local and state governments will have to step in. During the 2009-’10 school year, more than three out of every four New York City public students received free or reduced-price lunch, while 35.5 percent of New York State public school students participated.

3. The New York City Housing Authority might face problems if the shutdown lasts more than a month. While the Department of Housing and Urban Development projects that most of the nation’s 3,300 public housing authorities have the necessary funds to continue  providing rental assistance through the month, if the shutdown endures they have acknowledged that some authorities may not be able to continue normal operations. Section 8 subsidy payments to tenants will also cease if the agency surpasses its budget authority.

4. A shutdown would also severely curtail the cash flow to local school districts, because 94 percent of U.S. Department of Education employees will be furloughed. State and city universities might also have a hard time giving their students’ federal grants after a government shutdown because, according to the agency, “those requests won’t be able to be processed in a timely fashion with almost all employees on a forced vacation.”

5. With flu season approaching, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will no longer be able to afford its annual seasonal influenza program. The CDC will not be able to provide technical assistance, analysis and support to state and local partners for infectious disease surveillance.

6. New York State, like states across the country, will have to decide how to deal with state employees who are funded by federal grants. In Virginia, the state will pay these employees through October 4.

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