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Rick Scott Sides With Tea Party Over Florida's Middle Class in Shutdown Debate

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Tallahassee, FL — Rick Scott's Tea Party allies in Washington may well shut down the government in a few hours over their radical partisan agenda -- doing lasting harm to the middle class and Florida's economy.

Over the past two weeks, Rick Scott has held photo op after photo op, but has refused to answer questions from the press about fellow Tea Party politicians' effort to shut down the federal government. Now that his allies have taken our country to the brink, he refuses to take leadership and pressure the GOP to compromise.

In the fight between radical partisanship and the best interest of Florida's middle class, Rick Scott has clearly chosen the wrong side by refusing to speak out against a government shutdown over Obamacare. But this can't be a surprise, since Rick Scott began his political career by spending millions of his own money to protest health care reform in 2009.

"While Rick Scott remains silent, his Tea Party allies in Congress are hell bent on manufacturing a crisis that will hurt Florida's middle class," said FDP Chair Allison Tant. "A government shutdown could hurt small businesses, military families, and federal employees across Florida. Rick Scott should condemn the Tea Party Republicans in Congress for taking Florida's economy hostage."
 

Background

A shutdown could delay financial support for Florida’s small businesses. In FY2012, the SBA’s flagship 7(a) and 504 loans programs approved 53,847 applications and supported 571,383 jobs, for an average of just over 1,000 applications per week. A shut down would put a stop to this critical source of small business credit until the government resumes operation. According to the SBA, Florida is home to 396,515 small businesses. [Small Business Administration FY14 Budget Justification; SBA]

A shutdown could delay military pay and hurt military families in Florida. The Department of Defense estimates that during a shutdown nearly half of the civilian workforce would be sent home without pay, while the rest would continue to work for delayed pay, impacting the 31,149 civilian workers in Florida. 94,304 servicemembers in Florida would remain on duty, but would see their pay delayed if the shutdown extends for more than 10 days. Military members, veterans, retirees, and their families are on pace to redeem more than $100 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits this year and many service members, especially the most junior, live paycheck to paycheck. [Military.com, 9/20/13; Huffington Post, 6/19/13; DoD]

A shutdown could put 89,000 federal employees in Florida out of work. Federal employees around the country would potentially be furloughed in the event of a government shutdown. These workers may see reductions in their pay from the time they were forced to stay home because the government was shuttered. [Census; Washington Post, 9/23/13]
 

Possible Additional Consequences of a Government Shutdown

Many federal agencies are still attempting to determine exactly how a shutdown would impact their programs and operations. The following are consequences of previous government shutdowns that may or may not come to pass in a future shutdown.

Social Security checks for new seniors. Although checks for current Social Security benefits would still go out during a shutdown, applications for new benefits would be delayed and services for seniors could be significantly curtailed. As a result of furloughs and service cuts during the last shutdown, 112,000 claims for Social Security and disability benefits were not be taken, 212,000 applications for Social Security Numbers were not taken, and 800,000 callers were denied service on the Social Security Administration’s 800 number. In 2012, 4,004,631 people received Social Security benefits in Florida. [SSA History; SAA, 2012]

Veterans benefits. New veterans’ educational, compensation and pension benefits processing could be delayed. During the 1995-96 shutdowns, more than 400,000 veterans saw their disability benefits and pension claims delayed, while educational benefits were delayed for 170,000 veterans. Florida has 1,520,563 veterans. [Army Times, 2/3/11; CNN, 1/4/96; VA]

School readiness. A government shutdown could force Head Start centers around the country to close. During FY12, an estimated 1,600 Head Start agencies served over 950,000 children, including 38,304 children in Florida. [CAP, 4/11; HHS; CRS, 1/9/13