Utah prepared to weather federal government partial shutdown.

Hage Photo - Utah Office of Tourism
Image taken by Hage Photo - Utah Office of Tourism

The State of Utah is taking all necessary precautions to ensure continuity of services during a potential partial shutdown of the federal government.

All state agencies that use federal funds have contingency plans in place to continue services in the event of a temporary shut down. Our Division of Finance and the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget are also assessing what kind of limited cash flow support might be available in the event of a prolonged shutdown.

A perennial issue that comes up when there is this kind of budget impasse in Washington D.C. is what to expect at at National Parks and other federal public land.

Generally, roads and trails within national parks and monuments will remain open, but staffing will be limited and some visitor centers may be closed.

And although many of them operate on federal public land, all Utah ski resorts will remain open.

If your travel plans are disrupted by the shutdown or you have questions not answered here, please live chat with our staff at the Utah Office of Tourism and they will be happy to recommend alternate destinations and local favorites. For travel information in the event of a shutdown and access to the live chat, please visit the Utah Office of Tourism.

Listen to NPR coverage on this issue.

Apart from National Park Services, No other significant fiscal or operational impacts are anticipated through January 15. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget will continue to monitor the partial federal government shutdown status and keep apprised of potential agency impacts in the coming weeks.

A few programs that could be impacted if the shutdown continues beyond January 15 are the Women, Infants and Children Program, Child Nutrition Programs, some components of the National Guard, and federally-funded state employees.

The Herbert Administration is actively reviewing options at this time.

Background

The United States Congress has until 11:59 PM on Friday, December 21st, to pass their budget bills or face a partial shutdown. As of now, approximately 75 percent of the federal government (agencies and services) will receive funding.

The 25 percent of federal agencies and services that funding has not been approved for include, but are not limited to: the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the Interior Department, the State Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and more.

In the event of a shutdown, Utah will mostly be impacted by the closure of the Department of the Interior. In the past, this has resulted in the shutdown of National Parks and Forests and the furlough of the federal employees who manage those lands. This could potentially disrupt travel, tourism and outdoor recreation.

The State of Utah, however, has been working proactively with the National Park Service and other federal agencies to keep Utah’s federal public lands, including National Parks, as accessible as possible even if there is a shutdown.

And unlike in 2013, when the State of Utah provided nearly $1 million to the federal government to keep the National Parks within our borders operating during the shutdown, proactive planning leads us to believe that the state can assist in keeping the National Parks open during this holiday season at less than a tenth that cost. (By the way, although the federal government promised the state in 2013 that it would pay back those funds, it never did.)

Utah is regularly regarded as one of the best managed states in the nation. Unlike the federal government, every year, Utah passes a balanced budget on time, per constitutional and statutory requirements. This allows our state to operate effectively, budget prudently, and save for a rainy day.

Earlier this week, Kris Cox, the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, instructed state agency heads to prepare themselves for the event of a federal government partial shutdown by developing contingency plans that account for added risks and additional costs introduced by a shutdown.

Each agency has been instructed to discuss their plans and concerns with their assigned GOMB representative. They have further been instructed to assign the federal funds they typically receive into one of two categories: federal grants and contracts which are individually itemized (this category is most at risk of interruption of funding without reimbursement or discontinuation of funding) and Federal-state entitlement programs wherein the state incurs the cost of the programs and is reimbursed by the federal government.

The State of Utah is prepared to manage a short-term federal government shutdown with minimal disruption to state services or to the comfort of travellers throughout our state during this holiday season. A long-term federal government shutdown, however, creates greater challenge and risk for everyone. We urge Utahns to communicate their concerns about the impasse in Washington to the members of our congressional delegation.