AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage on late Friday fleshed out a scant list of state services that will continue to operate during the government shutdown that began early Saturday, adding child services and the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services.
The Republican governor’s office attached an updated list to a news release announcing LePage’s civil emergency order for Maine, which took effect after midnight when the state began its fiscal year without a two-year budget.
That order gives LePage wide control over the state’s 12,000-member workforce, allowing him to force employees who are deemed “emergency” staffers to work, though it’s unclear how many state employees would work under the order.
Between 2,500 and 3,000 of those workers have been assigned emergency status during the government shutdown, said Adrienne Bennett, a spokeswoman for Gov. Paul LePage, on Saturday.
In the state’s last shutdown in 1991, 2,000 employees were deemed essential at first. LePage’s plan seems to be more permissive than that of then Gov. John McKernan, but it’s similar. Employees who work would go without pay until there’s a budget, then be paid for their work.
His initial plan issued earlier this week said state law enforcement agencies, state parks, state prisons and psychiatric hospitals, ferries and tax collectors would work. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services also vowed to pay and take applications for welfare benefits.
On Friday, LePage added a list of newly deemed emergency services, including:
— The Office of Child and Family Services will be staffed around the clock to respond to reports of child and elder abuse or neglect and will make July 5 child care subsidy and welfare payments.
— The veterans’ services bureau will have limited staffing to process time-sensitive veterans’ claims and staff and the Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery System will staff cemeteries in Augusta, Springvale and Caribou to ensure that burials can go forward.
— The Maine Department of Transportation will staff some construction personnel, emergency bridge operators and disaster responders.
— The Maine Department of Environmental Protection will respond to emergencies and cleanups and issue ozone alerts as necessary.
— The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention will operate a state water testing lab and operate on a contingency plan to respond to emergencies.
— Unemployment benefits will be paid, but offices will close and customer services representatives won’t work, meaning initial claims would have to be filed online. Any errors on applications may have to be corrected when a budget passes. Continued claims can be filed by calling an automated phone line at 1-800-593-7660.