Shutdown would have dire results

Published September 16, 2007

LANSING (AP) - If Michigan lawmakers don't agree on how to fix state government's budget problems by the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1, it's not clear exactly what might happen next.

But the list of possibilities is short: shutting down nonessential government services, or putting in place a bare-bones budget that continues current spending levels. It's unlikely the state will have enough money to fund a continuation budget that lasts for months, however, and even a partial shutdown could mean hardship for many and a further black eye on the state's reputation.

The person with the best idea of what a shutdown might actually look like, Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, isn't giving any details. Her administration has been studying possible options department by department, as well as reviewing the state constitution, to craft a plan it hopes it never has to implement.

"It's only prudent for state government to know what our options are," Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said. "But we are not focused on a shutdown."

If state leaders don't get their act together in the next two weeks, some key employees and contractors may have to agree to put off getting paychecks while they stay on the job running prisons, emergency medical care services, state police posts and other essential services.

State universities should be able to remain open for at least for a short period during a shutdown, since they have money coming in from tuition and other sources to support operations.