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State Auditor makes plans in case of a government shutdown


The Register-Herald

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — The West Virginia State Auditor said he is making preparations to make sure if a government shutdown happens, it will have the least possible outcome on the state.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Auditor J.B. McCuskey said he is working with his office’s general counsel in preparing legal documents to submit to the state Supreme Court to provide guidance regarding the meaning of the auditor’s constitutional power relating to paying the state’s liabilities if a budget is not reached.

“The reason the auditor’s office has criminal liability is we have the checkbook essentially, but the authority is granted to us by the Legislature,” McCuskey said. “Without a budget, we have no authority. That’s the issue.”

McCuskey said the next step will be to file a lawsuit, which would not be adversarial in nature, seeking authority to pay vital services of government in the event of a shutdown. He said the filing of this lawsuit would come closer to the time of a shutdown.

He defined these government services as “everything that protects people who can’t protect themselves, as well as the needed financial payments to maintain the state’s standing in the financial world.”

“We are trying to be as careful as possible to be a neutral party in the event that a catastrophe happens,” McCuskey said. “I personally believe there will be a consensus, but everything is going to be fine. I have faith in the House Speaker and the Senate President to find common ground.”

Gov. Jim Justice recently announced a special session to begin Thursday to deal with the budget. He previously has said he hopes to be on the cusp of a budget that he believes will be good for the state. The Legislature must pass a budget by June 30.

“At the end of the day, what people need to know is that we are working to ensure that a government shutdown will have the least possible outcome on the state and while we don’t know specifically what will happen, we are preparing to be creative and essentially preparing for the unknown,” McCuskey said.

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