Gov. Jan Brewer’s administration is not disclosing what state government services could continue or be forced to shut down if a new state budget isn’t passed before a looming deadline.
William Bell, Brewer’s Department of Administration director, on June 8 ordered agencies to submit reports to identify essential government services and how they could legally continue without an approved budget. The reports were due three weeks ago.
The state Department of Administration has not produced records sought under a public records request filed June 12 by The Associated Press for submissions by 10 specific agencies. At least one other news organization has filed a similar request.
The deadline to approve a new state budget _ a step that requires closing a projected revenue shortfall of $3 billion to $4 billion – is fast approaching. A new budget legally must be approved for the next fiscal year, which starts Wednesday.
State government directly or indirectly provides services range from prisons and universities to parks and public schools. It’s not clear what would happen to those and other services, programs and activities if there’s no budget when the fiscal year starts July 1.
Brewer has said a state government shutdown would be a “disaster.”
Legislative work on a compromise with Brewer _ or submission of a previously approved legislative budget that she has criticized and could veto _ is not expected to take place before Monday, largely because a new proposal hasn’t yet been announced or pitched to rank-and-file lawmakers.
Since the AP’s records request was submitted June 12, department spokesman Alan Ecker has repeatedly deflected requests for the records, saying they were “still coming in and being compiled.” Ecker did not immediately return a call for comment June 26.
Bell directed the agencies to submit their material to his department by June 10, and the AP had asked that the requested records be released as they became available. Bell, who was asked about the pending records request this week, also did not immediately return a call for comment June 26.
Bell’s June 8 memo to agencies, obtained by the AP under a records request filed with Brewer’s office, said it was “prudent to begin some contingency planning for reduced services beginning July 1 should there not be a budget in place.” He told agency heads to list only essential services and to say whether they’re specifically required by the state or federal constitutions, court order or voter mandate.