budgets

From Acadia in Maine to Zion in Utah to the North Cascades in Washington, America's 401 national park areas have gates blocking entrance roads.

The last remaining campers and hotel guests in the parks must leave Thursday, and park rangers will patrol to keep others out.

The national parks "belong to the American people, and the American people should have the right to come in," says National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis. "But the only way I can protect these places during this period is to shut them down."

Christine Stuart / CT News Junkie

On today's episode of The Wheelhouse we're covering the hot political topics of the day, crunched together here in a quick-to-skim format, including how Access Health CT did on its unveiling: despite technical glitches, more enrollments came through than expected. This is The Wheelhouse Digest.

When a government shutdown loomed in 2011, the Twitterverse had some fun with #govtshutdownpickuplines.

They're back!

Here are some of the better, slightly naughty ones we're seeing (we also also checked #shutdownpicklines):

Update at 8:18 p.m. ET. Impasse:

As first day of a federal government shutdown came to a close, Congress was not any closer to a resolution.

Case in point: Republicans in the House proposed three bills that would have reopened national parks, the Department of Veteran's Affairs and kept the D.C. government afloat. But all three bills didn't even make it out of the House.

NPR's Steve Inskeep interviewed President Obama on Monday about the looming government shutdown, the upcoming debt ceiling fight and more. A full transcript of the interview follows:

STEVE INSKEEP: As you have watched what's happening in Congress, do you feel that House Republicans are coming any closer to anything that you could sign?

Monday's Highlights:

Only hours before a partial shutdown of the federal government would take effect, House Republicans still hadn't arrived at a temporary spending bill that Senate Democrats were willing to approve to keep government workers on the job. A closure appeared inevitable.

On Monday afternoon, Senate Democrats rejected a stopgap spending bill passed by the House over the weekend because it contained anti-Obamacare measures that Democrats found objectionable.

With just hours to go before a potential government shutdown, President Obama said there is still a window to avert it.

"There's still an opportunity, during the course of this day to avert a shutdown and make sure that we are paying our bills," Obama said in an interview with NPR.

But when asked if any proposal from the House is closer to something he would approve, Obama said flatly, "No."

Not even an hour after the House voted in favor of a bill that would avert a shutdown of the federal government, but also delay a key part of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, the Senate rejected it with a vote of 54-46.

With less than an hour before the government runs out of authority to spend money, the ball is now back in the court of Speaker John Boehner in the House.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut's budget office is working with state agencies to prepare for a possible shutdown of the federal government. In a letter last week to agency heads, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes said if Congress fails to reach a budget deal, there could be "significant impact" on staff and programs that rely on federal funding.

The federal government has moved closer to the brink of a shutdown, as the House of Representatives approved a temporary funding bill Saturday night that the Senate and White House say has no chance of becoming law.

The House bill would avert the budget deadline at midnight Monday by funding the U.S. government into December. But it also includes a one-year delay of Obamacare — a provision that Democrats and some Republicans say has no place in a stopgap funding bill.

Updated at 12:24 a.m. ET Sunday

The House voted early Sunday to tie government funding to a one-year delay in implementing Obamacare, sending the dispute back to the Senate, where it is certain to get a frosty reception. The House measure also repeals the Affordable Care Act's tax on medical devices.

Government Shutdown Looms

Sep 27, 2013
Diliff / Wikimedia Commons

In a rare weekend session, Congress will continue to debate how to avoid a government shutdown. The Senate voted along party lines for a temporary spending bill that would keep the government from shutting down next week. But Senate Democrats stripped a provision that would defund Obamacare, something House Republicans insist upon.

Update At 3:50 p.m. EDT.

President Obama on Friday praised the Senate for passing a spending bill to keep the federal government operating and called House GOP efforts to tie approving the measure to defunding the Affordable Care Act "political grandstanding."

He said that despite Republican hopes that Obamacare will be repealed, "That's not going to happen," accusing Republicans of threatening to "blow up the entire economy."

No one has the right to precipitate such a crisis, he said, "just because there are a couple of laws you don't like."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut is doing a little bit better getting ready for rainy days, we learned from Kevin Lembo this week, but when there's fair weather, the state legislature made sure we won't be generating energy from wind turbines anytime soon. Read about that and more in today's Wheelhouse Digest... where UConn has us thinking about the legality of digesting hemp brownies.

After a dramatic 21-plus hours in which Republican Sen. Ted Cruz stood to express his opposition to President Obama's health care programs, the Senate early Wednesday afternoon voted 100-0 to move ahead and take up legislation that would avert a government shutdown next Tuesday.

As expected, the move by the Democratic-led Senate sets up what promises to be another showdown with the Republican-controlled House.

Uma Ramiah / WNPR

Today at The Wheelhouse Digest, there's a lot of talk of shutting down and tightening up. Maybe it's the cooler weather, or maybe it's a new mentality pushing us to block things from happening. In that vein, there's an effort at hand to consider the Associated Press's request to release 911 recordings in the wake of the Newtown shooting last year. Read about that and more in today's digest.

Well, it's almost Oct. 1, the day of a threatened government shutdown and the day state health insurance exchanges are scheduled to begin operations.

Those are the online marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act where people can compare health plans and sign up for coverage.

Would closing down the government delay the opening of the health exchanges?

There's a showdown underway in Congress.

The Republican-controlled House has voted to keep the government running only if the Affordable Care Act is defunded, and the Democratic-controlled Senate isn't likely to go along with that plan. If the two sides can't resolve their differences by Oct. 1, the U.S. government will shut down.

We asked you what you wanted to know about the potential government shutdown, and journalists from NPR's Washington Desk tracked down the answers:

John Phelan / Wikimedia Commons

Connecticut’s Supreme Court is receiving briefs in a case that could affect how the state pays for indigent defendants.

Dr. Lishan Wang is accused of the 2010 murder of a former colleague, Dr. Vanjinder Toor in Branford. Wang was briefly represented by the public defender’s office, but later won the right to defend himself.

Chion Wolf

New Havenites reclaiming a beautiful park in their city got us thinking about urban parks in general. Frederick Law Olmsted is the undisputed father of American city parks, including Central Park itself. He came from Hartford, and he is buried here.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A Hartford judge will hear arguments this morning in a landmark education lawsuit that challenges the way Connecticut funds its public schools.

The state attorney general’s office wants the judge to dismiss the case, which was brought in 2005 by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding.

CCJEF is a statewide coalition of municipalities, local boards of education, unions, and education advocates who say the way the state finances local public schools denies many students their constitutional right to an equitable and adequate education.

There's a lot of searching on Capitol Hill but no discovery yet of a way to avoid a federal government shutdown at the start of next month.

Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor are searching for enough House GOP votes for a spending bill that could pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate and keep the government open past Sept. 30.

Tea Party-affiliated lawmakers are searching for a way to repeal the Affordable Care Act with the help of the Democratic-controlled Senate and President Obama.

The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System is facing a significant budget deficit this fiscal year, and ConnSCU officials are hoping the state will step in and pick up most the tab.

ConnSCU governs 12 Connecticut's Community Colleges; Central, Eastern, Western and Southern Connecticut State Universities, and Charter Oak State College. The projected $18 to $20 million budget gap accounts for about two percent of ConnSCU's overall budget.

Chion Wolf

Since Governor Dannel Malloy narrowly won the race for governor in 2010, Republicans have set their sights on 2014. We’re still more than 14 months away from the next election, but Republican candidates are already getting in line.

Today, Governor  Malloy joins us in studio and we ask him about his re-election plans and those vying for his job. One of the big issues, if not the biggest issue, will be the state’s economy and unemployment rate. The latest numbers show 11,500 jobs were added in the state, BUT the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.1 percent.

Lundgren Photography, Creative Commons

You ever notice how gas prices tend to rise, just when we’re all on the road for summer get-aways?

Well, starting today, we’ll see the prices go even higher – as a Connecticut tax goes up.  It’ll give the state some of the highest prices in the country – but at least that extra revenue will pay to repair the roads…or, not.

Chion Wolf

Yesterday, Governor Malloy signed an executive order establishing the Office of Early Childhood, an idea that has broad support, and funding from the legislature.

"There was no doubt that this legislation, until it apparently got tied up in some politics, was going to pass," said Malloy.

St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center is cutting funding to a Hartford program that targets infant mortality. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, the hospital says the recently passed state budget is to blame. The Maternal Infant Outreach Program is almost 30 years old and is jointly funded by two hospitals and the city of Hartford.

St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center is cutting funding to a Hartford program that targets infant mortality. The hospital says the recently-passed state budget is to blame. The Maternal Infant Outreach Program is almost 30 years old and is jointly funded by two hospitals and the city of Hartford. It serves about 450 pregnant women a year.

edkohler / Creative Commons

Promises - easy to make and tricky to keep.

In the case of Governor Dannel Malloy, he promised throughout the legislative session that he wouldn't raise taxes.  And, by his account, he didn't.  (Others disagree.)

But here's a riddle.  If you promise not to raise taxes, and you've cut all you say you can cut, and you STILL need money to balance the state's books, what do you do?

Answer: Keno.

Lawmakers Tap Energy Funds To Balance Budget

Jun 12, 2013
Energy Tomorrow, Flickr Creative Commons

Environmentalists are giving state legislators a mixed report card for the session that's just ended. They're happy with parts of the state's new energy policy. But a raid on clean energy funds is causing major concern.

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