June 27

By Andrew Kitchenman

Routine road maintenance, veterans services, student loans, the PFD division — these are among the state programs that will be shut down if lawmakers don’t agree to make the budget effective by Thursday, July 1.

Many other state services will continue to operate, while others will be partially shut down.

The House Finance Committee heard on Thursday from industry leaders who expressed concern about the impact of a shutdown on the private sector.

Sarah Leonard, president of the Alaska Travel Industry Association, is concerned about the loss of staff in state parks. The ATIA would receive money in the state budget.

“ATIA’s current national marketing campaign attracting pandemic-weary travelers would cease in the event of a shutdown, effectively cutting the cord of our microphone right now as we are saying to the world: ‘Go big, go Alaska, and we welcome you,’” she said.

Marcus Trivette is a construction executive with Fairbanks-based Brice Inc. and a board member of the Associated General Contractors of Alaska. He said the worst-case scenario is that permitting office closures could ruin an entire season of building. But he said even a shorter delay would hurt.

“Alaska’s private sector employers are in a precarious position coming out of a pandemic and in the midst of a recession,” Trivette said. “A government shutdown, even a partial one, will negatively impact our ability to get work done and will cost us time and money.”

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration published a list on Wednesday of what state government services will operate in the event of a state government shut down.

State Office of Management and Budget Director Neil Steininger told the committee that the state was balancing multiple goals: On the one hand, it must provide constitutionally required services. On the other hand, the state is not supposed to spend money that hasn’t been included in a law that has gone into effect.

“There’s a clear constitutional obligation for the public health and public safety that we feel weighs higher than that consideration of valid appropriations,” he said.

Services that would be fully shut down include the senior benefits program, the Department of Corrections’ domestic violence program, the state’s medical education program, and teacher certification.

Other programs potentially to be shut down are: the Department of Health and Social Services’ tribal assistance programs; tourism and seafood marketing; Power Cost Equalization payments; the Alaska Vocational Technical Center; and the Alaska Police Standards Council.

The Division of Motor Vehicles would also be shut down, except for functions that support law enforcement and the courts.

No more details about legislative talks to prevent a shutdown were released through late Thursday afternoon.