Possible federal shut down could impact East Texas

BEAUMONT, TX (News Release) - (KTRE) - Non-essential federal employees and their customers are still in a holding pattern about a government shutdown. One could come as early as Friday.

Numerous federal representatives in East Texas offices are not allowed to be interviewed on the topic. There are some clues as to what will happen should a furlough occur. The last furlough occurred in late 1995. Federal agencies in the area will no doubt see some workplace changes.

East Texas is home to four U.S. National Forests, employing around 200 people. People are already asking if campgrounds will remain open. A government furlough will likely mean all recreational areas will be closed.

If you're wanting to travel abroad, get your passport now. A slowdown in processing them will put travelers in a holding pattern for sure.

Agriculture producers could be placed on hold too. A slowdown in loans could occur. Federal agriculture programs are avoiding new projects.

The same is true for the state's highway projects. Most all are funded through federal dollars. Current projects will continue, but reimbursements may be slowed down. A furlough could also delay bids on new work.

College financial aid is getting hit at the federal and state level. The processing of direct loans and grants would be delayed. Applicants are advised to submit paper work in a timely fashion.

That advice is too late for taxpayers who haven't filed their income tax. A furlough could slow refunds down, but only if you file with a paper return.

"As long as the returns do not have to be manually handled once they reach the IRS, then the refunds should not be impacted," said Cindy Hearne, office manager for Nacogdoches H & R Block office.

City governments won't be directly impacted, but the residents could be. "Especially those who are needy, are restricted with their mobility,' said city manager Jim Jeffers. "We certainly do not want to see a federal shutdown to have any impact on those individuals."

County governments are mainly concerned about how long a furlough could last. "Some of our grants that are federal grants will be slightly impacted," commented Nacogdoches County Commissioner Jim Elder. "(It) possibly can slow down paper work, possibly slow down on refunds or funds of these grants, but I don't look for that to be any problem."

Essential government workers will stay on the payroll should a furlough be called. This includes the people who provide safety and security. Also the U.S. Postal Service will continue to deliver the mail. That agency is self funded.

Other federal workers would have to go home without a paycheck. For now, government workers will continue to come to work until someone tells them differently.

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