HARRISBURG – With the federal government shutdown entering a second month, Gov. Tom Wolf has provided an update on how his administration is working to minimize the impact on Pennsylvanians.
“My administration is doing everything that it can to help those impacted by this situation,” said Wolf. “Agencies across state government are working with local officials and organizations that rely on federal funding.
“We are temporarily using state funds to fill the gaps where we can. We are working to assist affected workers however we can. I urge businesses and creditors to show compassion for federal employees that are not being paid.
“I hope that the President will agree to accept the bipartisan funding bills and continue his fight over the wall for another day without the pain of this shutdown for workers, their families and their communities. It is time for this to end before the consequences are even more dire.”
The Wolf administration is taking the following steps to address the federal government shutdown:
Department of Human Services
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) payments will continue through at least mid-April by using prior-year federal funds. The commonwealth has provided $4.2 million for the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program that funds 100,500 child care slots for low-income families.
The 1.8 million Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients in Pennsylvania received their February benefits on Jan. 18. These benefits must stretch through February, after which the fate of the program is unknown. The department notified SNAP recipients of the change.
Department of Health
The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program has enough federal funding to continue through February. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recovered additional unspent grant from states and will redistribute the funds.
Department of Labor and Industry
The Rapid Response Coordination Services (RRCS) is helping affected federal workers to access resources available to them. Resource fairs were held in Pittsburgh last week and in Philadelphia today. The resource fairs are in partnership with local organizations.
Pennsylvania is joining many other U.S. states in waiving the work registration and work search requirements for furloughed federal employees who meet Unemployment Compensation eligibility requirements to help affected workers to maintain their benefits.
Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency
Trainings and exercises for first responders and emergency management practitioners that involve federal agencies have been cancelled. Activities related to the disaster declaration from flooding last summer are continuing.
Department of Transportation
To assist rural and urban public transportation provides, the commonwealth has provided $7.1 million in unreimbursed federal expenses for operating and capital costs.
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Preparation for an elevation mapping project that includes federal funds is on hold. The high-resolution, elevation data will be used for flood management, natural resource management and conservation, land use planning, geologic mapping and hazard reduction and infrastructure development.
Department of Community and Economic Development
The Pennsylvania Business One-Stop Shop is assisting small businesses waiting for approvals of federal Small Business Administration loans. The department is also exploring options for other business owners.
Department of Environmental Protection
Final approvals on grant funding and permitting functions have begun to be affected by the shutdown, including pass-through funds depended on by local governments.
The department is reviewing and processing what they can, but final action is needed at the federal level. Additionally, DEP is still waiting on guidance from the federal government on how to manage PFAS contamination in drinking water, a report on which has been delayed by the shutdown.
DEP and the PFAS Action team continue to work to address this issue, calling on leadership at the federal level to take up this critical issue.
Office of Administration
The commonwealth continues to use state funds to cover payroll for federally funded employees at state agencies. The commonwealth will be reimbursed after the shutdown ends.