A memorandum from the state budget office issued earlier this month asks state agencies to let them know what’s essential and what’s not, in the event a budget stalemate leads to a government shutdown.
The July 14 memorandum (scroll down to read) asks agencies to go through their operations, and report back about public safety and essential services need to continue on in the event of a funding stoppage –things like keeping on the staff who feed animals at the N.C. State Zoo, emergency responders in the highway patrol and prison guards.
Agencies need to provide their responses by Monday, which need to include estimates about what would happen if funding is halted for a week, or longer.
Preparing for a budget stalemate is a lot different from how the state prepares for other emergencies, state budget director Lee Roberts wrote in the July 14 memorandum.
“For a budget contingency plan, we must instead identify the minimum functions and services that must be performed for immediate response to issues of public lives or safety, or to avoid catastrophic loss of state property, and the associated personnel required to carry out these tasks,” Roberts wrote in the memorandum. “This includes the number of personnel required to perform these functions at the critical level, as well as administrative staff that support those critical functions.”
He takes care to point out that the chance of government shutdown because of the current budget negotiations is unlikely, and his request is intended to make sure a contingency plan is available in case things fall apart on the federal or state level.
But it’s certainly not an unprecedented scenario, as North Carolinians found out in 2013 when the federal government stopped running.