Gov. Paul LePage’s administration said Thursday that Maine law enforcement agencies and state parks would remain open during a government shutdown, under the terms of an emergency order to place the state workforce further under his control.
The partial plan for a shutdown, released early Thursday afternoon, comes with the Legislature still negotiating Maine’s two-year state budget with no deal in sight. If they don’t enact a budget that can gain the Republican governor’s signature by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, state government will partially close.
On Thursday, LePage’s office released the text of a civil emergency order that would go into effect if that deadline isn’t met. It would allow the governor to determine which state workers will be deemed “emergency” employees who would work without pay, but get paid for that work when a budget is passed. Others would not work or be paid.
At the beginning of Maine’s last shutdown in 1991, former Gov. John McKernan made roughly 2,000 of the state’s 13,000 employees work. Maine’s workforce was just under 12,000 last year.
Spokespeople for LePage didn’t answer a question about how many state employees would work under this partial plan. In a news release, the administration said the governor is still considering requests from commissioners and other agency heads.
The services that the governor has deemed essential through Monday include:
— Law enforcement agencies: That includes the Maine State Police, Capitol Police, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and fire marshal’s office, the Maine Warden Service and Marine Patrol. Forest Rangers will work on an on-call basis.
— State parks: All state parks under the umbrella of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will be open, as well as Baxter State Park, the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray and Swan Island in the Kennebec River between Richmond and Dresden.
— State psychiatric hospitals in Augusta and Bangor, all state correctional facilities and Maine Revenue Services.
— Information technology workers will have limited staffing to “support emergency functions and protect infrastructure.”
— Ferry service: LePage told TV reporters on Thursday that the Maine Ferry Service — which provides services to islands mostly in Penobscot Bay — “have to run.”
LePage issued a guidance to state workers on Wednesday that said paychecks will be issued on June 28 and July 5 for work performed in June. Lawyers for the Maine State Employees Association said in a Thursday letter to the governor that they would pursue $4.6 million in damages and back wages if those payments aren’t made.