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Kan. juggling on shutdown can't last, Brownback aide warns

Published on -10/11/2013, 4:41 PM

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Kansas can't shield residents relying on social services from the federal government's partial shutdown past mid-November, Gov. Sam Brownback's chief spokeswoman said Friday.

The governor issued a statement promising that his administration is committed to minimizing the shutdown's effects and can juggle state funds to programs normally sustained with federal dollars because it has healthy cash reserves. But the governor added that an extended shutdown puts programs "in jeopardy."

Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said the state also drew down enough federal funds before the shutdown began to continue providing benefits through October under the Women, Infants and Children program, which helps poor mothers with young children buy food. Kansas also has enough federal funds on hand to finance benefits under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program through mid-November.

But Hawley said that if the state shifts its cash reserves into those programs, it can't be sure the federal government will reimburse it later.

"If the shutdown continues into November, we have to take a serious look at what our options are," Hawley said.

Brownback's statement and Hawley's comments came as congressional Republicans in Washington offered a proposal for ending the 11-day partial shutdown.

Brownback's office announced Thursday that he had recalled all but seven of 66 workers at the Department of Labor furloughed last week and directed the agency to cancel plans to furlough another 119. He said the moves ensure that the department can continue processing benefits for unemployed workers.

The state can cover federally financed spending because it had more than $430 million in cash reserves as of the beginning of the week, he said.

TANF provides cash assistance for almost 19,000 Kansas residents, about 72 percent of them children, according to the Department for Children and Families' latest monthly report. The Department of Health and Environment has said WIC provides help for about 70,000 Kansans.

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