Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle announced on Tuesday that the state government might temporarily shut down in the coming months if the budget process is not finished soon.
Doyle said in a press conference on Tuesday that non-essential governmental workers might be temporarily laid off and all members of his cabinet are being asked to consider future cuts to staff, according to Doyle spokesperson Carla Vigue.
"The threat of a government shutdown remains very real," Doyle said in the press conference.
Vigue said no specifics have been set on what might happen in a partial government shut down and that issues like government grants and bonds complicate what might happen. No deadlines have yet been set on when the possible shutdown might occur, according to Vigue.
"Its all up in the air right now," Vigue said.
Doyle briefed Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch on the possibility of a shutdown early Tuesday, according to Huebsch spokesperson John Murray. The Department of Corrections running out of money in March and the University of Wisconsin-Madison facing cuts next semester were two possible outcomes mentioned by Doyle, Murray said.
Murray said the Assembly Republicans did not yet have a reaction to the possible shutdown until more specifics of the plan were announced, but they are skeptical of the announcement.
"Based on the governor's track record over the past few weeks, it seems like he is more interested in scaring the people of Wisconsin than in honestly sitting down to budget negotiations," Murray said.
UW-Madison political science professor Dennis Dresang, who teaches a class on state government, said it was very unlikely the government would actually be shut down.
Dresang said the Wisconsin government has never been shut down before because state law allows funding to continue at the previous year's levels should the budget not be agreed upon by the start of the fiscal year.
Even in states that can shut down, there is always a provision to fund prisons, according to Dresang. He also said current spending levels would not put the state in debt as states were legally not allowed to do so.
"We can't go into debt, that's unconstitutional and totally impossible," Dresang said.
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