Government Shutdown in Sight? - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Heather Flanigan Reports

Government Shutdown in Sight?

January 13, 2004 -- Posted at 8:48 p.m. CST

State agencies have a week to advise Governor Huckabee how to run the state on a shoestring budget in the event of a government shutdown. State agencies may be down to the bare bones when it comes to funding. If the government shuts down, some folks in state funded agencies may be in trouble...

It's a domino effect...because legislators have yet to comply with the state supreme court's mandate to overhaul public education, it could leave the state in crisis....meaning state employees could be looking at leaner times.

Steve Clayton is the director of Adult Education in Jonesboro, and although he thinks it won't happen, he's still worried.

"It's not a fun scenario to think about with a wife and family at home and for all of the employees at the adult education center and in the same situation," said Clayton.

Governor Huckabee notified state department heads to advise him on staffing and funding requirements...only providing bare-bone services.

"We would have to sit down and see how much revenue was available and make a decision on what were the most critical services and we would use those funds on the most critical services first," said Joe Barnett, Arkansas Highway Department.

Those critical services include highway and structure maintenance and repair, and also sign damage and replacement...things most Arkansans take for granted.

Arkansas isn't the only state that has considered a government shutting down because of education reform. In a similar case, the New Jersey Supreme Court blocked the state from paying it's bills and it's employees, until legislatures fufilled their constitutional duty to public education.

"Governor Huckabee's proposal...he's going out on a limb, and kind of taking a risk, the reason he's doing that, I feel, is because relative to the rest of the county, Arkansas schools are in pretty bad shape," said Clayton, "So, he might not have the right answer but he's trying to look for another answer."

Arkansas has just under 50,000 state employees in more than 200 state agencies that could be affected if the government does shut down.

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