Mike Beebe: No More State Money for Federal Programs

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas no longer has the resources to cover programs affected by the federal government shutdown and could be forced to furlough more than 4,000 state employees if it continues into next week, state budget officials said Wednesday.

Gov. Mike Beebe told state agency directors in a memo that as of Friday, any programs or employees that depend on federal funding and unable to draw on those funds during the shutdown will be suspended until its conclusion.

"It now appears that the shutdown could be prolonged indefinitely," Beebe wrote. "The state of Arkansas simply does not have the resources to continue to cover the costs of federal programs, and cannot put state program matching funds in jeopardy."

Arkansas currently has on furlough 673 state employees whose positions depend on federal funds in some manner. State Budget Administrator Brandon Sharp said agency directors had been given some flexibility on how to cover programs and employees that were affected by the shutdown.

"Now we are tightening our belt and making sure we're not exhausting state resources," Sharp said.

In the memo, Beebe wrote that any employees or programs that continue beyond Friday must receive certification from the state's chief fiscal officer. Sharp said officials likely won't have a firm number until the end of the week or Monday on the number of state employees who will be furloughed. Sharp said as many as 41 state agencies would be affected by the lack of federal funding.

"We're going about it on a case-by-case basis with these agencies," he said.

In his memo, Beebe wrote that the Department of Finance and Administration will review any federal correspondence to see what exceptions are available because of public health, safety and welfare. Sharp said that agencies that could be affected by the additional furloughs include the departments of Health, Environmental Quality and Workforce Services.

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