Possible state government shutdown

Update: The state government shutdown, which began July 1st, ended July 3rd, 2017.

It is sounding more and more like there will be a state government shut down beginning July 1st. If that were to happen, it is as yet unclear what aspects of state government might continue to function in an emergency capacity.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is federally funded program, but it is administered by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. There hasn’t been a state government shutdown since 1991, so details are uncertain. Conceivably a shutdown, were it to happen, could interrupt the flow of benefits to SNAP recipients, and could interrupt the reimbursement process for markets, unless the distribution of welfare benefits is deemed an “essential service”. All that is speculation until the LePage administration clarifies what aspects of government services will be continued through a shutdown.  Here is an article about the lawsuit brought by Maine Equal Justice Partners to try to ensure social welfare programs will continue in the event of a shutdown.

Update: The DHHS announced that SNAP and TANF benefits will be paid in July, even if there is a shutdown, according to this BDN article.

Regarding WIC, we are told that, in the event of a government shutdown:

  • Vendors and farmers will continue to be paid for checks deposited to their banks per our standard protocols.
  • WIC customers will continue to be issued checks from their local agencies which will remain open.
  • State office support to vendors and farmers will be suspended.

The media is following the story closely:

  • “The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry firefighters will remain on duty on an on-call basis. Other functions of the department [e.g. food inspections] were left undetermined Thursday,” according to this PPH story.
  • Click here for an earlier story from Maine Public.
  • Click here for a press release from Gov. Lepage’s office explaining what essential services will remain available July 1-3.
  • Friday update from the BDN: “LePage will allow a shutdown”.
  • What’s open and what’s not, according to the PPH July 1st.