Texas Speaker of the House Joe Strauss was in Corpus Christi Thursday for a conference on state water needs, but the government shutdown remained a hot topic.
A number of school and health related federal programs could be in danger of losing funding if the government shutdown continues. Strauss was asked what he and others in Austin plan on doing to deal with that possibility.
The conference was held at the Solomon P. Ortiz Center, where everyone seemed to be talking about the shutdown. 3News asked if Strauss and other Texas legislators would step in and fund programs like WIC and school lunches should the need arise.
"We have some authority within state government to shift funds around if we have to on a short term basis, but it's my hope that won't lead to further strains on our state budget, which is dependant, quite dependant, on federal funds," Strauss said. "I hope the federal government and our friends in congress and our president work things out."
Whatever happens, Strauss said Texas will be prepared. He also said the governor had told state agencies that he wanted to see their plan for dealing with the loss of federal funds.
Strauss said that, over the short term, the state is okay; but an extended shutdown would be problematic. The state is able to make up some of those lost federal dollars, but only on a short-term basis.
One program that could be hurt is the Head Start program. Here in Nueces County, the federal government pumps in $9 million a year for the program to function.
The program works with disadvantaged children to prepare them for elementary school. Right now, there are around 1,100 youngsters who are learning to read, write and do math in the program.
Funding for the Head Start program was approved well before the federal shutdown, so it is believed that the money will still be there for the time being; but as with most situations, an extended shutdown could change things.
"What we're looking at right here is a resolution that's going to happen here on Oct. 15," County Head Start Director John Rodriguez said. "We think that might have a bigger impact than what's happening right now, because without the government continuing to fund, where we are at, we might be in jeopardy."
That Oct. 15 date Rodriguez spoke about is in reference to the debt ceiling debate. Some say that if congress doesn't vote to raise it, then the government would not be able to pay its bills.
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