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(Juneau, AK) – Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth today sat down with legislative leadership in both the House Majority and Senate Majority to brief them on the executive branch’s preparation for a potential shutdown of state government. If the legislature fails to pass a budget by June 30, 2017, the State will be in uncertain and unprecedented territory.
“A shutdown would put the State in a constitutional crisis,” said Attorney General Lindemuth. “Our constitution clearly says the power to determine where and how to spend money lies with the legislature. In the face of the legislature not upholding its constitutional duty, where does that leave state services and programs? That’s the question we are working to answer by evaluating every program or service provided by the State.”
Attorney General Lindemuth still believes the legislature can get the job done, but the executive branch also needs to start planning for the possibility that a compromise will not be reached in time. That was the purpose of her meeting today with legislative leadership. The Attorney General outlined the efforts that have been made so far to establish a tiered system to categorize services that can likely continue at some level during any potential shutdown as well as those that would need to be shutdown completely.
“Make no mistake—many state services will have to fully shutdown in order for us to remain in compliance with the constitution,” said Attorney General Lindemuth.
No matter how long the government is forced to shutdown there will be potential liabilities that accrue. There will be many contracts that are not paid or are otherwise breached, which may result in penalties and interest. There will be statutes that are not being fulfilled that will create additional legal liability. It will require additional efforts by the Department of Law after a shutdown is over to unwind all of legal matters that had to be halted or delayed while a shutdown was occurring.
Attorney General Lindemuth also briefed legislators on the incident command structure that Governor Walker is implementing.
For a copy of the fact sheet on shutdown planning provided to legislative leadership, go here.