Dear Neighbors & Friends,
We are all in shock and still reading through the devastating vetoes from Governor Dunleavy and his out of touch, been in Alaska for six months OMB Director. Their message is clear – Alaska is closed for business. From devastating cuts to education that mean our workforce will be less prepared to eliminating important programs that support development of our agriculture industry to getting rid of the Ocean Ranger Program that works to keep our water safe for fish and supports our tourism industry, all the cuts scream that Alaska is closed for business.
At this point it’s too early to tell whether vetoes will be possible because the Republican House Minority is in walk step with Governor Dunleavy and has already today issued a press release saying they won’t even consider vetoes, that they are demanding a full PFD, and only then will they consider adding some items back to the Capital Budget. The Republican House Minority and the Governor are willing to forgo $900 million of federal dollars for our critical infrastructure needs to play this dangerous game.
I have stated I am not in support of the PFD cut only plan that is the most regressive option and harms working class and low income Alaskans the most. But, I am someone with a record of working with people to find compromise. What has changed and made this challenging is that Governor Dunleavy is a my way or the highway kind of guy, unwilling to have conversations, and even more unwilling to compromise. For some reason he and his base of supporters in Wasilla think they speak for the rest of the state. Well, I can tell you from the thousands of emails I’ve received that the extreme views of many of those Wasilla voters are not representative of the whole state. In fact, if our district acted and thought like that we’d have a fiscal plan that included a broad based revenue measure that was founded on economic fairness. But no single district gets to dictate policy for the entire state. We must work together, but Govenor Dunleavy has proven he is unwilling to do that. Also, what Governor Dunleavy is not sharing with Alaskans is that we cannot support a full PFD for the long-term because it means we will run out of funds in the ERA by 2025 and not have a dividend for future generations of Alaskans.
I’ll keep working as hard as I can for a compromise and long-term solution that gets us out of this annual cycle of debating the value of the PFD. In fact, today there was a meeting of the bicameral Working Group on the PFD and the CEO of the Permanent Fund Corporation gave a very detailed history and assessment of the fund. You can find the documents here: http://w3.akleg.gov/index.php#tab4. Because this meeting was held at the Anchorage LIO it was accessible online during the meeting and using the same link will get you audio shortly.
GOVERNOR FAILS TO SIGN A RESPONSIBLE BUDGET
Today Governor Dunleavy vetoed over $400 million from the state’s operating budget – this is on top of the legislature sending the governor a budget that has been the smallest in 15 years! With the total cuts combined it’s an over $800 million hit that will harm our economy, 2,000 Alaskans will lose jobs, and there will likely be a significant outward migration from out state further damaging the economy and possibly causing our real estate market to crash. It’s not a pretty picture and I’m not being dramatic. I’m sharing what has been shared with the budget experts looking at the impact of these drastic cuts.
I will say immediately that this is unacceptable and it balances the budget on the backs of working-class families and low-income Alaskans. The two groups hit the hardest by the vetoes – children and Seniors. That says a lot about the values a person has. You can look through the governor’s 182 line item vetoes HERE. Also, I put together a brief list of the cuts that I am most concerned about after a quick glance:
· Department of Administration - $3.4 million
o Alaska Public Broadcasting – $2.7 million
o Public Defender Agency – $579,800
· Department of Community, Commerce, and Economic Development - $968,700
o Grants to Alaska Legal Service - $759,100
· Department of Education and Early Development – $44 million
o Child Nutrition – $40,000
o Early Childhood Education Grants - $1.2 million
o parents as teachers - $474,700
o Head Start Grants - $685,300
o Best Beginnings – $320,000
o State Council on the Arts - Eliminate
o Eliminate Online with Libraries - $670,900
o Eliminate Live Homework Help - $138,200
· Department of Environmental Conservation – $3.7 million
o Alaska Ocean Rangers Program – eliminated
· Department of Fish and Game - $3 million
o Director of Habitat Division – eliminated
o Director of Subsistence Division – eliminated
· Department of Health and Social Services - $116 million
o Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery Grants - $6 million
o Nome Youth Facility – eliminated
o Adult Public Assistance – $7.5 million
o Senior Benefits – Eliminated
o Medicaid - $50 million
o Adult Dental Medicaid - $27 million
· Department of Labor and Workforce Development – $27,900
· Department of Law – $1 million
o Reopening of Utqiagvik DA office – eliminated
· Department of Military and Veterans Affairs – 678,100
o Local emergency planning Committee – eliminated
o Additional veterans’ service officer – eliminated
· Department of Natural Resources - $4.4 million
o Agriculture Development - $1.2 million
o Agriculture Plant Material Center $1.5 million
o Agriculture revolving loan fund – $319,600
· Department of Public Safety - $3.5 million
o VPSO program - $3 million
· Department of Transportation and Public Facilities – $1.3 million
o Reduction in travel to rural airports and maintenance
· University of Alaska - $130 million (on top of the legislature’s cut. Total reduction 41% to UA)
· Judiciary - $2.1 million
o Debt Service - $53 million
o School Debt Reimbursement- $50 million
o Community Assistance - $30 million
o One-time funding increase for schools – fully vetoed
· Mental health capital - $11 million
· FY19 Supplemental
o $800,000 for Senior Benefits for May and June of 2019
COMMUNITY COUNCIL MEETINGS
The last few local community council meetings of the year wrapped up before the summer hiatus. I was able to give legislative reports from Juneau to the Mountain View and Russian Jack Community Councils and my staff were in person to meet folks and listen if they had any issues our office could help with. The Russian Jack Community Clean-up also happened and because we had cleaned the park so well that there was much less trash this year. Yes! Still all the volunteers got to come out to the park pick up some trash and enjoy a nice barbeque lunch together. Also, the Mountain View Community Council is looking for a member to serve! If you are interested, please visit: http://www.communitycouncils.org/servlet/content/home.html to learn more!
My team had a great time at the Airport Heights community Picnic. It was a beautiful day filled with good food and neighbors.
The Mom’s Demand Action Wear Orange Rally was a great way to support ending gun violence and spend time with neighbors and friends honoring those who have been lost and enjoying those of us who are still here advocating.
The Citywide Juneteenth Celebration was a huge success and despite the rain, the music and people made the event one that I hope will continue to grow year after year.
UPCOMING COMMUNITY EVENTS
The Midtown Farmer’s Market is starting up on June 22nd and will be a great addition to the neighborhood on Saturdays in the BP parking lot. A great place to get fresh veggies and support local businesses.
We also have the Airport Heights Market happening every Wednesday at the Fire Island Bakery.
Anchorage Downtown Partnership - The Downtown Anchorage Partnership is putting on a ton of fun and free events this summer. There are music events, dancing, yoga and much more. Check them out here .
P.S. Please feel free to call me on my cell with questions about the budget vetoes. 360-4047.