Monday, July 22, 2019
Restoring the Operating Budget Vetoes & (Hopefully) Passing the Capital Budget
Well its been a dramatic few days in the legislature. The capital budget passed the Senate on Sunday with a 19-0 vote. Then it failed in the House on Sunday with a 25 to 7 vote.

How can a vote fail with such a clear majority? Well, the capital budget is funded using the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR) which requires 3/4 of all legislators to support it. In the House where we have 40 members, that means we need 30 people to vote to use those funds.

A 3/4 vote is also required for the annual "reverse sweep" of funds back into designated funds like the Power Cost Equalization (PCE) fund, which helps to keep energy affordable for 84,000 Alaskans annually, the Higher Education fund and dozens of others funds.

The Anchorage Daily News did a good story explaining the reverse sweep and what the impact of failing to do so would look like. The "reverse sweeps" from the CBR happens annually and requires a 3/4 vote. So far we have only gotten to 29 representatives--one vote short--of that threshold.

The capital budget isn't a partisan issue and has consequences for about 15,000 working Alaskans. Neither is the "reverse sweep." Republicans, Democrats and Independents have all voted for it historically.

What's next?

The Capital budget can come up for one last vote. We need to work on finding the 30th vote to fund the capital budget.

How you can help

Please thank those who have voted in support of the capital budget. You can also write those who voted against it or who are absent and encourage them to support the capital budget and the reverse sweep so we can keep Alaskans working, going to college, distributing vaccines and all of the other important business of life made possible by this year's capital budget.
Restoring the vetoes and funding the PFD

The House has introduced and amended HB 2001 to restore funding of the vetoed items and fund a $1,600 PFD. This bill seeks to find compromise with the Governor by accepting $94 million in cuts to the operating budget while restoring the majority of the University funding, homeless and domestic violence programs, Alaska State Council on the Arts, pre-K programs, and more.

HB 2001 has more real cuts in it. You can see the list of cuts the House is proposing accepting from the Governor's vetoes here. This list totals to about $90 million and dramatically reduces travel for the Department of Transportation, cuts school bond debt reimbursement by 50% and eliminates positions.

I don't love it. It's problematic to reduce school bond debt reimbursement to communities which were promised those funds and it cuts travel for the people who maintain our airports. How do you maintain an airport if you can't fly there?

But that's how compromise works. I hope that the Governor understands that this is a real compromise for many of us. I hope that my colleagues in the House Minority understand that this is a real compromise which is going to cost Alaska jobs--about 1,200 based on the ISER formula.

It's time to make some compromises and to get on with the business of Alaska.
PS - Below is an volunteer opportunity at Standing Together Against Rape that I wanted to share for those in the Anchorage area who may be interested in supporting sexual assault victims.
Phone Number: (907) 269-0123
Standing Together Against Rape (STAR) Volunteer Opportunity:
Crisis Line Responder Training
Dates: September 4, 2019 to September 25, 2019 (Orientation to Graduation) = 40 hours of training; 20 hours online and 20 hours in person.

Times: Six evening sessions from 5:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. on Mondays & Wednesdays, plus two Saturday sessions from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Location: STAR Office, 1057 West Fireweed Ln., Suite 230, Anchorage, AK 99503

Why take the training? Do you want to give back to your community in a meaningful and concrete way? Have you ever felt moved to join the 'me too' movement? Do you like volunteering from the comfort of your home? Take a stand against violence and support survivors by attending our September 2019 Crisis Line Responder Training. Space is limited, so make sure to turn in your application as soon as possible.

What you'll be able to do after the training: After the training, you'll be able to utilize crisis intervention skills to provide trauma-informed support, information, and resources to anyone who calls the Crisis Line.