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Just in Case, Be Prepared

by Jennifer Gray

Like most everyone else, we’re hopeful that the Maine Legislature will pass a budget and avoid a state government shut down. But, it never hurts to be prepared.

CC BY-SA 3.0 Nick Youngson

How Would a Shutdown Happen?

The state’s fiscal year starts July 1. The Legislature is constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget. The Legislature is currently at an impasse, unable to agree to a budget that has 2/3 support. The governor is threatening to veto any budget the Legislature approves other than the House Republican proposal released last week. He has 10 days (excluding Sundays) to veto a budget. Should he take the full 10 days (which he’s said he would), that takes the state past July 1. In that case, there would be no budget–no money for the state to spend–until the budget is enacted, either by the governor approving a budget or the Legislature overriding his veto by a vote of 2/3.

Things to Think About

How might your organization and your clients be impacted?

  • All state functions except for “essential services” would be shut down starting July 1.
    • Are there functions you and your clients rely on that may be disrupted? Are there state offices that you regularly interact with that would be closed? Are there permits that you need that would be unavailable?
    • Consider creating a back-up plan and informing key decision-makers within your organization, including the executive committee of your board.

Is it possible that your organization could face a cash short age? 

  • If you rely on dollars coming from the state, it might be wise to talk with your bank about a Plan B.

Is anyone on your staff considered a state employee? 

  • They may not be considered “essential” and may be temporarily laid off. How might your organization cope with that scenario?
  • Are you looking forward to going to a state park for the 4th of July weekend? Thinking of camping at a state park this July? Think about some other options to have in your back pocket: local land trust-owned property, national forest land, and non-staffed public reserved land could serve as a fine alternative.

Stay Informed

  • To keep informed, check your statewide news sources, including the Bangor Daily News (BDN) and Portland Press Herald.
  • Chris Cousins and Michael Shepard at the BDN email an information daily news update focused on the State House. You can subscribe to the updates here.

Hopefully, these alternatives won’t have to be utilized, but if they are, the preparation will have been worth the time.

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