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August 9, 2019
Mourning a Great Lawmaker and Citizen
We lost a great Alaskan Wednesday with the passing of Senator Chris Birch. Chris and I were colleagues in the Alaska House of Representatives before he moved over to the Senate. Senator Birch will be remembered as a forceful advocate for his constituents and a man of principle. I will remember Chris for his sense of humor as we faced stressful political times. As Alaskans, we should grieve the loss of Senator Birch while cherishing his work and memory.
New Capital Budget Bill Signed
Last month, the Alaska Legislature sent Governor Dunleavy a new capital budget bill essential to keeping Alaska out of another recession. On Thursday, Governor Dunleavy signed Senate Bill 2002, but he issued another $34.7 million in line-item vetoes. Here’s the list of vetoed items.
Despite the vetoes, I’m thankful the Governor moved quickly in signing SB 2002. The bill includes the much-discussed “reverse sweep” to recapitalize over 50 state accounts that do a lot of good for Alaskans, including Power Cost Equalization and Alaska Performance Scholarships. SB 2002 also includes $73 million in state funds to leverage $750 million in federal transportation funding.
Waiting on the Governor
The only bill left on Governor Dunleavy’s desk is House Bill 2001 to restore over 80 percent of the Governor’s $444 million in operating budget vetoes. That includes the restoration of $110 million in cuts to the budget for the University of Alaska. I am confident the University can accommodate a $25 million cut but, as we have already seen, a $135 million cut would be devastating. In addition to the restoration of vetoed funding, House Bill 2001 also authorizes a $1,600 PFD this year. While I remain a firm advocate for following the law and paying a full statutory PFD this year, I am encouraging the Governor to sign HB 2001 without delay with a commitment from legislative leadership for a 3rd Special Session later this year focused on the Permanent Fund, the PFD, and other items.
Town Hall Saturday
Bring your concerns and questions to my town hall meeting on Saturday afternoon. I’ll be at the Elim Café at 561 W. Dimond Boulevard Saturday from 2 – 4 p.m. I hope to see you there.
I’m here for you, so please keep in touch on matters important to you and your family!
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