SALT LAKE CITY — Utah remains in "decent" shape as the partial government shutdown enters its fourth week but won't be able to keep federal programs going long term, a state budget official said Monday.
"We are not in position to keep all programs open indefinitely. We can keep some programs open, some services going. We would have to prioritize and determine how long. We are not in a position to just backfill all of the federal programs in the state," Kristen Cox, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, told reporters.
The state plans to provide a weekly update of where it stands until the shutdown ends.
Cox said state officials are starting to make long-range plans in the event the shutdown stretches another six weeks or so. It could dip into the state's $820 million Rainy Day Fund or incoming revenue past February if necessary, she said.
To date, Utah has spent $66,000 — of $80,000 allocated — to keep the state's national parks open, accounting for about one-quarter of the cost over the past three weeks. Private foundations and local government have covered the rest.
The Utah Office of Tourism has agreed to spend another $4,275 to keep Zion National Park open through Wednesday. It expects private funding to continue so the park can remain open through the end of January, according to the budget office.
Bryce Canyon National Park will remain open for at least the next 10 days due to funding from the Bryce Canyon Natural History Association, though the state might step in with "nominal" contributions to extend that through January, according to the budget office.
The Utah Department of Transportation plowed snow-covered roads in Arches and Canyonlands national parks last week. The Canyonlands Natural History Foundation has committed to cover the costs for visitor services in both parks for 30 days.
The Fruita campground in Capitol Reef National Park is open, but all but one restroom is closed. The scenic drive is also closed.
The governor's office is working with state tourism officials on a longer term plan for the parks.
"We want to make sure people can plan out weeks in advance. We know what we can do for the next six weeks, two months if this continues," Cox said. "If we can’t sustain it after a few months, then we’ll have alternative plans for people to visit state parks."4 comments on this story
The Utah Department of Health received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund the Women, Infants and Children Program, better known as WIC, through the end of February. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — the federal food stamps program — is also funded through February, according to the state budget office.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Child Nutrition Programs told state school officials last week it has funding for lunch and breakfast programs into March.
The Utah National Guard doesn't expect any significant impact through Jan. 30 because most of its money come from the already-approved defense budget, according to state budget office. It has $1.4 million in contracts with the Department of Justice for which reimbursement will be delayed.