Governor Dunleavy announced today he may shut down the government, laying off state employees and creating chaos in industry in order to obtain leverage for a larger Permanent Fund Dividend. This shutdown is entirely unnecessary, a crisis he has manufactured in a misguided attempt to obtain political leverage.
When we passed the budget this week, it had retroactivity language so that even though minority members opposed the "effective date" clause (which takes a 2/3 margin to pass), our budget can and should be effective immediately upon being signed. Unfortunately, the Governor is trying to weaponize minority members' obstruction to hold the whole state hostage for a larger dividend. Considering the sweeping impacts on public safety, the fishing, construction, visitor, and other industries, not to mention state employees who would be laid off, this action is wildly irresponsible. In addition, a shutdown would reduce state revenue (such as fish taxes), exacerbating our fiscal challenges. The Governor should immediately retract his threat to shut down the government.
Consider some of the threats to our private sector: Homebuilders can't close on homes, shutting down cashflow. ADF&G employees won't be able to open and close fisheries, depriving our fishermen of income at the most critical time of year. DEC can't do shellfish testing, shutting down shellfish operations. Oil and gas permitting could be interrupted. Ferries, state parks and campgrounds, and the Whittier tunnel all shut down, harming our visitor industry just when we're trying to save small businesses.
I've enclosed below recent and historic legal opinions about this. In unilaterally pursuing a state shutdown, the Governor is ignoring decades of law and precedent. I cannot fathom how someone could willfully pursue such a reckless and destructive course at a time when we need stability for economic recovery. I will do everything in my power to prevent a government shutdown, but under no circumstances will I be bullied into overdrawing the Permanent Fund or otherwise endangering the state's fiscal future. We have too much at stake to allow one demagogue to wreck our state's finances or economy.