State Agencies Warned to Prepare for Government Shutdown

January 13, 2004 - Posted at 8:15 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - State agencies have a week to advise Governor Mike Huckabee on how to run the state on a shoestring budget in the event of a court-ordered government shutdown in the school funding case.

He sent an e-mail Saturday directing state department heads to apprise him by January 20 about staffing and funding requirements for providing absolute bare bone service to protect public safety.

Huckabee said the Legislature's failure to comply with a state Supreme Court order to have a plan in place by January 1 to overhaul Arkansas' public education system could leave the state in crisis.

Huckabee noted in the e-mail that the New Jersey Supreme Court took such action in a similar school funding case, blocking the state from paying its employees and its bills until it fulfilled its constitutional duty to public education.

Huckabee asked people to huddle with senior management, division directors, or other key personnel to develop a possible response to shut-down.

Arkansas has 49,588 employees in 204 state agencies and spends about $15.6 billion annually from all funding sources, or about $60 million every business day.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)