The current Federal fiscal standoff preventing the passage of a Federal budget for the fiscal year that began October 1st has led to wide-spread federal furloughs. The impact on most of Oklahoma’s state agencies and their staff has been minimal so far. However, the Oklahoma Military Department (OMD) as well as the Disability Determination Division (DDD), of the Department of Rehabilitative Services has notified the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) that they will furlough affected employees if a resolution does not occur prior to October 17th.
OPEA is working with the agencies and OMES to explore what options may be available to assist the employees if the standoff continues and employees are furloughed. The option of using other state funds to cover the agencies’ expenses while waiting on federal funds was explored but that would require legislative action to use funds from outside the agencies’ budgets. An action like this would require a special legislative session since the legislature is not currently meeting and will not return to session until February.
Both OMD and DDD are heavily reliant on federal funding for their budgets. This is different than most state agencies that have a higher percentage of state funding in their budget. It is because of this funding that each of these agencies faces greater challenges during this fiscal impasse. Other programs in some state agencies may have a similar state and federal funding mix but are likely in an agency large enough to cover the shortfall until federal funds are available again.
The state is also assessing other state agencies to see what programs and staff might be impacted if the federal situation is not resolved in a relatively short time.
OPEA has received calls from members who may be directly impacted by the impasse with their concerns about not being able to meet household expenses if they are furloughed. In past furlough situations, OPEA was able to work with credit unions for options during the furlough. Some employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits while they are furloughed. OPEA members who have questions about unemployment insurance may also contact OPEA with their questions.
The Association will continue to communicate with members, their agency leaders and OMES staff to assess the impact to employees and explore solutions that may minimize the strain put on affected workers until the federal situation is resolved.]]>