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Archive for Tuesday, November 14, 1995

COOL THEIR HEELS

November 14, 1995

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The effect of the government shutdown will increase the longer it goes on.

At least 70 area residents are on an unrequested unpaid vacation today, thanks to a government shutdown created by an inflexible Congress and U.S. president.

Federal employees of departments deemed "nonessential" were told not to report to work today, including about 60 workers in the local office of the U.S. Geological Survey and 16 in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Clinton and Perry lakes.

Measurements of stream flows and water quality throughout the state conducted by the local Geological Survey ceased. All areas at the lakes with a gate on them were to be closed to the public.

"It's sort of a source of anxiety for all of us," said Teresa Rasmussen, acting park manager at Clinton Lake. "It's not knowing what your plans are for the next few days."

Employees at Kansas University's Reserve Officers Training Corps programs and the Lawrence office of the U.S. Food and Safety Inspection Service are not greatly affected, employees said.

Classes will be held at Haskell Indian Nations University -- administered by the U.S. Interior Department -- and employees will be paid, but officials cannot purchase textbooks or other materials.

The shutdown will not have a big effect if it goes on for one or two days, state and KU officials said.

But hundreds of state employees working in federally-funded state agencies could be put on leave if the shutdown lasts longer than a week.

Memos with furlough plans were posted recently in state agencies, raising concern among some employees.

Gov. Bill Graves' press secretary, Mike Matson, played down state furlough plans, saying they were required to be posted by law.

"We have every hope and expectation that cooler heads will prevail and that the president and Congress will reach some sort of agreement," Matson said. "I think we're safe at least until the end of the week."

State agencies that could be affected by an extended federal shutdown include the departments of Social and Rehabilitation Services, Adjutant General, Human Resources, Health and Environment, Aging, Agriculture and the State Board of Education.

Asked about state employee furlough fears, Matson said, "It's going to have to take no agreement for several days for any impact on Kansas."

At KU, an extended federal shutdown could affect hundreds of research grants.

"The real threat is that agencies don't know how much money they have and so they're real conservative in how they give out the funds," said Kim Moreland, KU's director of research support and grants administration.

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