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Shutdown’s Local Toll

People, commerce suffer

      It’s Groundhog Day early for the many federal workers in Chesapeake Country. Unless they had booked time where warm ocean breeze blows, no good news continues about ending the government shutdown.

      A report this week by Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot gets beneath the rhetoric to show the impact not just on people but also on Maryland taxpayers and businesses.

      Some 172,000 Marylanders are impacted by the shutdown. The first bi-weekly check that didn’t go out Friday, January 11, meant $778 million in losses, the report said.

      All told, between 230,000 and 245,000 Marylanders work for the federal government, some for agencies already funded. But roughly 90,000 Marylanders are either furloughed or working without pay. About half of the 164,000 federal contractors are affected – adding up to the 172,000.

      Federal workers almost certainly will get back pay. But there’s no assurance contractors will recoup their lost pay.

      The losses compound in other ways. The report computed lost tax revenues at $57.5 million every two weeks and less in combined state and local income tax withholding, plus $2.1 million less in sales taxes.

         Then there’s the matter of business investment, with companies unsure how long the shutdown will last and whether more are likely to come.

         In a statement, Franchot offered his take along with the numbers: “These estimates demonstrate what we already knew — the unnecessary shutdown of our federal government is having a devastating effect on Maryland’s families and our state’s economic well-being.”