Florida officials relieved that government shutdown avoided

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz photo courtesy ABC News

The United States House of Representatives reached a last-minute agreement Saturday night to avoid a government shutdown. But a crisis averted does not equal a problem solved.

While Democrats blame Republicans for rejecting the short-term spending bill requested by President Biden, Republicans claim that there needs to be a change in the funding process in order to come up with a new budget.

A government shutdown would have been damaging for the entire country, let alone the millions of federal employees who depend on their government checks, but what would a shutdown have  meant for Tallahassee — especially in the middle of hurricane season?

Panama City-based WJHG Channel 7 was able to get a statement from U.S. Senator Rick Scott and Representative Matt Gaetz through its sister station in Tallahassee. Scott voted in favor of the temporary spending plan while Gaetz was vehemently opposed to it.

“We have got to avoid running $2.2 trillion annual deficits every year,” Gaetz said. “Otherwise, young people will never own anything in this country, and that would be a real shame.”

Not only is the country in multiple trillions of dollars in debt that will take decades to pay off, but young adults such as the students at Florida A&M University and Florida State have to experience the hardships of having to obtain ownership of essentials such as houses.

Meanwhile, Scott said, “We’ve got to fully fund FEMA. FEMA’s disaster fund, which impacts not just Florida but every state, has basically run out of money. That’s number one. No. two, it’s the one-year anniversary of Ian. Our farmers still haven’t gotten money.”

Tallahassee has been spared during the last few hurricanes to make landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast, but that’s not the case for many in the Big Bend. Struggling farmers and essential government workers not getting paid could result in higher grocery prices or in the worst case, a food shortage.

The Leon County/Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce voiced concerns as the possibility of a government shutdown loomed last week.

The chamber’s mission statement, “Is to lead and promote the success of business driving a higher quality of life for our community.”

Stu Bevis, the chamber’s executive vice president, was unable to make a statement but Front Desk-Membership Services Blaire Bennett was able to give her thoughts on the effects a government shutdown might have locally.

“The government shutdown would be devastating but at the same time the government needs to work together and until we can do that this issue will become recurring,” Bennett said.

It seems as though the consensus on how to fix the government’s funding issues is simply “to come together.” But if the fix is something so elementary as simply coming together and solving the issue of funding, then why hasn’t it happened?