Herbert calls special session for national parks, furloughs
Gov. Gary Herbert on Friday called for the Legislature to meet in special session Wednesday to appropriate additional money to keep Utah's National Parks open, and to help assure that Utah students don't lose school lunches and several hundred furloughed state workers don't lose their health benefits.
The Senate will also be asked to confirm Rep. Spencer Cox, Herbert's nominee to be lieutenant governor.
The state wired $1.7 million to the Interior Department to reopen eight parks and monuments in Utah. But that money will run out in 10 days, and the Legislature will have to appropriate more money to keep the parks open beyond that.
In addition, 200 state workers whose salaries are paid with federal grants have been furloughed as a result of the government shutdown. That number could triple if the federal government shutdown continues through November and into December, said Nate McDonald, a spokesman for the governor's office.
"Either they haven't been furloughed yet or there's been other sources to cover them for this short time period, but if this continues there will be more of them furloughed," McDonald said.
The governor is asking the Legislature to allocate money to ensure the workers don't lose their benefits while they are out of work.
Herbert is also asking the Legislature to provide additional money to sustain the Child Nutrition Program, which provides funds for school lunches.