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July 12, 2019
I Voted to Override the Governor’s Dangerous Vetoes
On Wednesday, I proudly cast a vote to override the dangerous budget vetoes from Governor Dunleavy that threaten thousands of jobs and Alaska’s hard-fought economic recovery. Due to the intentional absence of many lawmakers, the vote to override the vetoes failed. While I am disappointed the Governor’s vetoes will stand, I am not giving up hope that through good-faith negotiations a deal can be reached to reverse many of the most dangerous cuts.
The overwhelming public outrage sparked by the governor’s dangerous budget vetoes is unprecedented in Alaska’s history and has changed the political landscape, perhaps forever. Now is the time for all sides to come together towards a meaningful compromise. If Governor Dunleavy would allow it, the Alaska Legislature can work on a supplemental appropriations bill to remedy much of the harm the budget vetoes will cause. There is plenty of time in the Second Special Session to work out a solution, but it will require lawmakers to return to Juneau and get to work.
Click on the photo to watch Rep. Chris Tuck speaking in favor of overriding budget vetoes during the July 10, 2019, House floor session.
Some of the vetoes that will stand with Wednesday’s vote will have devastating impacts on Alaska. The Governor’s 41 percent cut to the University of Alaska immediately jeopardizes the mission of the University and forces professors, researchers, and other professionals to leave Alaska and take their experience and expertise with them. I have already heard from students that will be forced to leave Alaska because of the loss of degree programs, professors, and possibly even the accreditation of the entire University system. This is simply unacceptable and cannot be allowed to stand.
The University of Alaska Board of Regents will discuss how to proceed during Monday’s special full board meeting from 1 to 3 p.m. in Fairbanks. A teleconference site will be open in the UAA Administration Building in Anchorage, and the meeting will be live streamed.
An All-Out Assault on the Education of Our Children
While the cuts to the University of Alaska received much of the public attention, and rightfully so, Governor Dunleavy also used his veto pen to get rid of nearly every dollar we invest in early education in Alaska. Coupled with his refusal to release the K-12 education funding, what we are witnessing is an all-out assault on the education of our children. I first entered politics to protect and improve public education from pre-school all the way up to the University of Alaska, and that is still my priority. The budget the House and Senate sent Governor Dunleavy was a compromise budget that included $280 million in cuts while still ensuring early education opportunities for the youngest Alaskans and higher education opportunities for those looking for the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in the modern economy.
A quote from the floor speech by House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Thompson during Wednesday’s joint session of the House and Senate to consider Gov. Dunleavy’s budget vetoes.
Smoke from Active Wildfires Poses Health Risks
The long stretch of hot and dry weather across Alaska has resulted in a very active wildfire season. Currently, there are 160 active wildfires, and so far this year over 1.4 million acres have been burned statewide. All this fire has produced a lot of smoke. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation issues air quality advisories that allow Alaskans to prepare for unhealthy amounts of smoke. Here is the link: Air Quality Advisories. Please remember that children and the elderly can be very sensitive to smoke. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has information available online about how to protect yourself and your family from the harmful effects of smoke. Here’s the link: Frequently Asked Questions About Wildfire Smoke.
The Hurst Creek Fire on Sunday, July 7, 2019. Photo by Matt Snyder with the Alaska Division of Forestry.
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