Governor sends emails to thousands of state workers warning of lack of operating budget

Published: May. 29, 2019 at 3:59 PM AKDT
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Gov. Mike Dunleavy sent emails to thousands of state employees Wednesday with no operating budget passed two weeks into a special session. Leaders in the Legislature say a budget will pass, likely by mid-June.

If an operating budget isn’t passed by July 1, the state government would shut down and thousands of state workers would either be laid off or furloughed. Lawmakers say that is unlikely.

Throughout Alaska’s history, there has never been a state government shutdown.

The emails sent to state employees are different from an official notice sent to state workers required under Alaska law and collective bargaining agreements. The administration says if the budget is still not passed by June 14, then official notices will need to be sent out.

Lawmakers across the Legislature say that the operating budget is close to being complete and should pass, likely by mid-June, avoiding a government shutdown.

The Senate majority’s current plan is to remove the Permanent Fund Dividend from the budget and debate the PFD separately in its own bill.

“A real government shutdown is exceedingly unlikely, unless for some reason the governor decided to completely veto the operating budget,” said Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage.

The governor said while the Legislature still has time to pass a budget, necessary preparations need to be made in the event that there is a state government shutdown.

Those preparations include making sure that Alaska public safety workers, including Alaska State Troopers, could continue to work.

“We are working through some scenarios to ensure the safety of Alaskans,” said the governor, who described that more information would likely be available in coming days.