We worked through dozens of amendments, over two days, to the operating budget, HB 69. After the minority asked to adjourn, the bill was up for final passage on Sunday. Then, in a bait and switch, the minority asked for more time to offer dozens more “gotcha” messaging amendments. In an abundance of charity, Speaker Stutes referred the bill back to the Rules committee. This experience is an illustration that our legislative processes are predicated on good faith, and when self-described obstructionists like to try to filibuster the process, our systems no longer work. I admire the Speaker’s patience in extending an olive branch time after time, even when a few among the minority act in bad faith (to be clear, most minority members act in good faith but just a few can create gridlock).
I hope you will examine the substance of this budget. It funds our constitutionally mandated public services at levels generally consistent with last year, and maintains fidelity to our Percent of Market Value (POMV) law that protects the Permanent Fund. This budget strikes the right balance between fiscal discipline and investment in core services, and I appreciate the hard work of Finance members to put it together. I also appreciate the work of many members to reject super-size dividends that would drain the Permanent Fund and put us into a fiscal death spiral. We saw strong, bipartisan and cross-caucus votes in defense of our Permanent Fund, and that gives me faith that we can work through our fiscal challenges both this year and in the future.
We are supposed to adjourn by May 19 and for the sake of my family I sure hope we do. It will be a chaotic end of session as we push operating and capital budgets across the finish lines while integrating American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) relief. Thank goodness we have a seasoned leadership team in the bipartisan majority to lead our caucus through incredibly challenging terrain.