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No access to DMVs, low-income senior benefits, libraries or state parks if shutdown happens

Dunleavy administration presents list of services that would be impacted by looming shutdown
State Office Building in Juneau, Alaska.
State Office Building in Juneau, Alaska.(KTUU)
Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 9:05 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration has released a list of state services that would be impacted by a looming state government shutdown that will begin on July 1 if a budget is not passed and signed before then.

The 10-page list details which services would remain operational, which would be partially shut down or under reduced staffing, and which would shut down completely.

A benefits program for low-income Alaska seniors would stop giving out a monthly allowance. A domestic violence program inside state prisons would stop, as would chaplaincy services for inmates.

A shutdown would also mean that state Division of Motor Vehicles offices would close unless it was to help law enforcement and the court system. Alaska State Parks would all be closed for the length of a shutdown, said Kate Sheehan from the Department of Administration.

The Division of Agriculture would also shut down. It’s in charge of inspection services and quality control for some products at Alaska farms. Agencies in charge of giving out business licenses would close their doors, too.

Alaska Job Centers would close, impacting unemployed Alaskans looking for work. The Alaska Vocational Technical Center would shut its doors, too, except for housing services.

The recorders office at the Department of Natural Resources is in charge of filing mining permits, and would also be shut down.

Libraries would close and so would state museums. Routine road maintenance would also stop. A public corporation would stop giving out new loans to students, and so would an organization in charge of helping Alaska students get medical degrees.

When Alaska last faced a state government shutdown in 2017, a list of potential impacts was ready weeks in advance. The 2021 list was released Wednesday evening, one week out from a potential shutdown, causing uncertainty at state agencies.

Some critical state services would continue to operate if the Legislature can’t resolve a budget impasse before the start of the next fiscal year.

Commercial and sport fisheries are listed under “partial shutdown/reduced staffing levels”, with staff necessary to maintain constitutional duties.

Sheehan said there would be staffing at sport and commercial fisheries to ensure that they continue to operate. There have been widespread concerns that the Bristol Bay salmon season and the Southeast Alaska trolling season could be impacted by a state government shutdown.

Managers at the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. have now learned that they would be immediately called back to work, assuaging fears that the fund could miss out on millions of dollars in investment earnings without people in place to execute trades.

The Alaska Marine Highway System would be fully operational as would the Whittier Tunnel, but it would only have limited maintenance. Public safety entities such as the Alaska State Troopers and the Village Public Safety Officer Program would continue to operate as normal.

Medicaid services would continue operating, too, as would Pioneer Homes and the Alaska Psychiatric Institute.

Thousands of state employees have been told they would be laid off on July 1 unless a budget passes. They would not be paid for the duration of the shutdown, the Dunleavy administration said.

Jake Metcalfe, head of the Alaska State Employees Association, told Alaska’s News Source on Wednesday that the union is recommending potentially impacted employees file for unemployment benefits now.

Accrued leave balances would be paid out seven days into a shutdown under current contracts, potentially costing the state tens of millions of dollars. Public employees can cash in their leave before a June 29 deadline.

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