All the lights were off Tuesday at U.S. Congressman Rich Nugent’s Spring Hill office and the door was locked.
Phone callers were greeted with a message: “Due to a lapse in appropriations, the federal government is temporarily shut down. As a result, most of the staff has been furloughed.”
The message ended by telling callers “we apologize for any inconvenience.”
Except for that, a federal shutdown that began Tuesday had virtually no impact on Hernando County.
All county and city offices were open for business as usual. Post offices were exempt from the shutdown so people’s Social Security checks will be delivered.
The Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport control tower remains open.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park and all of Florida’s 171 state parks, greenways and trails, remained open.
County Commissioner Dave Russell said he received no calls from constituents.
“I don’t think we’re in for any big service losses,” Russell said.
Russell said the stock market was healthy Tuesday and the dire forecasts coming from some quarters appear to be unfounded.
“The business community doesn’t seem too terribly concerned about it nationally as far as I can see,” he said.
Russell said the government has had shutdowns before and survived.
“I’m not saying this is unhealthy,” Russell said. “Certainly the sky is not falling.”
The U.S. government closed its doors as a budget impasse idled hundreds of thousands of federal workers and halted most non-essential government services for the first time in nearly two decades.
A midnight deadline to avert a shutdown passed amid a budget stalemate. For many federal workers, the partial government shutdown meant no more paychecks as they were forced onto unpaid furloughs. For those still working, it meant delays in getting paid.
Each political party is blaming the other.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, said in a press release the shutdown “represents a failure of leadership.”
“One of the most basic functions of governing is budgeting. At the state level, we compromise and negotiate to create a balanced budget every year. But, President Obama has shown no interest in negotiating or compromising,” Scott said.
Democrat U.S. Senator Bill Nelson blamed the shutdown on “a small group of Republicans in the House of Representatives that want to shut down the government.
“They are irresponsible and reckless,” Nelson said in a press release.
Nelson said if this shutdown continues for more than a day or two, “people are going to get so irritated that lives are disrupted, that they can’t get the government services.”
But Nugent, who said about 16 of his staffers have been furloughed without pay, cautioned Hernando Countians not to panic.
“The mail continues, Medicare continues, Social Security checks continue,” he said. “For most people, they’re not going to see much of a difference day to day.’
Nugent said this all stems from President Obama’s “my way or the highway” mentality and unwillingness to negotiate.
“At the end of the day, I’m not sure how long this potential shutdown might last,” Nugent said in a letter to constituents.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.