July 2, 2021
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As youíve likely seen, Governor Dunleavy announced his annual budget vetoes yesterday. He chose to cut the entirety of the PFD, and, as in past years, cut dozens of other programs upon which everyday Alaskans rely.
Last month, I voted for a budget which contained an $1100 PFD. Roughly half of this amount would have been paid for from funds which require a æ majority for passage. Unfortunately, the governorís office actively whipped votes against the budget, and numerous Republicans then voted against this budget. As a result, the budget passed, but only with enough votes for a $525 PFD.
Dunleavy then vetoed this relatively meager payout as well, leaving the current PFD amount at $0.
When this year started, the governor said that he wanted a $3000+ PFD. A couple of months ago, his proposal was for a $2350 PFD. Majorities in the House and Senate approved an $1100 PFD, but his officeís intransigence reduced this to $525. Now, heís vetoed the remainder.
I find it truly amazing that a governor who ran on maximizing the PFD has now vetoed it in its entirety.
Governor Dunleavy vetoed 69 separate items in this yearís budget. While this is a far cry from 2019 (when his vetoes of the operating, capital, and subsequent budgets totaled roughly 200 items), these cuts will have significant impacts on many Alaskans, and many are mindboggling ñ in numerous instances, the governor himself requested items be added to the budget, only to veto them a month or two later!
While my office continues to review the vetoes, here are a few cuts Iíd like to highlight:
- Public broadcasting ñ $2.7 million cut.
- Statewide Libraries, Archives, and Museums - $904,000.
- Alaska Tribal Child Welfare - $3.4 million.
- Medicaid - $21 million.
- Alaska Travel Industry Association (to promote Alaska to travelers) - $10 million.
- Vocational-Technical Centers - $12.5 million.
- Public Health Nursing - $1.2 million.
- Office of Childrenís Services - $1.6 million.
- Oil Spill Prevention and Response - $462,700.
- Alaska Legal Services - $400,000.
- Alaska Long Trail - $13.2 million.
- Dept of Transportation Road and Infrastructure Projects - $256 million.
- University of Alaska infrastructure upgrades- $31.55 million.
- Community Assistance (funds for cities and towns) - $21 million.
- Preschool grants - $2.5 million.
- Ferry System - $8.5 million.
- Rural Schools - $17 million.
Averting a Shutdown
On the positive side, despite these absurd vetoes there is thankfully now a budget in place (albeit an incomplete one).
The state came dangerously close to a government shutdown which would have begun July 1st.
Despite the governor actively lobbying legislators to vote against this yearís budget, the Conference Committeeís budget barely passed both chambers. The real threat began after the House Minority voted against the normally procedural vote on the budget to move the effective date to July first, to align with the stateís fiscal year. Although the budget contained language to provide retroactive funding and 40 years of legal precedent make clear this alone would prevent a shutdown, the governor refused to sign the budget pointing to the lack of the effective date (which requires a 2/3 vote or 27 members to pass).
Ultimately, this was a power play to hold the state hostage, appease a small group of House members and get a larger PFD. After extensive negotiations with the House Minority caucus and a recommitment to work together to find a long-term fiscal solution, 7 members of the House Minority ultimately voted to include an effective date clause into the budget, averting a government shutdown.
I want to thank Representatives Kaufman, Lebon, Shaw, McCarty, McKay, Thompson, and Tilton for putting our state first.
Mayor Bronson Proposes Large Scale Homeless Shelter near UAA/ APU
The newly sworn in mayor, Dave Bronson, has released a proposal to build a large "navigation center" at the intersection of Tudor and Elmore, near the old Police Station which would provide shelter for up to 900 individuals experiencing homelessness. Although many details remain unclear, I have provided an overview of what has been made public below.
Currently, the Anchorage area needs shelter for 450 individuals, 155 transitional housing spaces, 1,695 rapid rehousing units, and permanent rehousing spaces for 700 individuals. A major lesson learned from the emergency shelter at the Sullivan Arena is ìthe need for resource and referral services at all local shelters and the need to keep shelters open 24 hours a day.î
The new administration has indicated they were unable to find an existing location that fits these needs and is proposing new construction of a large-temporary shelter able to house up to 900 individuals. The proposed location would be the corner of Elmore and Tudor, near the old Anchorage Police Department headquarters and construction costs are estimated at $15 million. Various details about the plan, such as how it would be funded and who would operate it, remain unclear. However, community discussion is ongoing.
Local community members, as well as members of the Anchorage Assembly, have voiced concern, primarily surrounding the large size and population of the shelter, the impact on nearby neighborhoods, cost, and other possible logistical barriers.
It is my hope that the Bronson administration, Anchorage Assembly, and our community can work together to find the best solution that provides compassionate and meaningful support and services to our neighbors experiencing homelessness and works for the community and local businesses. The Bronson administration has held a number of public events both at the Assembly and a community dialogue. I will continue to update you on future updates and opportunities to provide input and learn more.
The University Area Community Council will be holding a special zoom on this topic on Thursday, July 8th at 7:00 PM. To find out more visit their Facebook page.
Fourth of July Festivities
This yearís celebration of Independence Day will be a little bit more typical than what we experienced in 2020. Many fun and exciting things are happening this July 4th weekend (in addition to today being a First Friday). Below are just a few of the happenings around town:
- Anchorage Veterans 4th of July Parade: On the Delaney Park Strip, festivities kick off at 11:00 am. More information is available on their Facebook post.
- We're Still Standing July 4th Community Celebration: Happening on and around the Delaney Park Strip, vendors will abound to celebrate this July 4th. More information is available on their Facebook post.
- Independence Day Doubleheader with the Anchorage Bucs: Wear your red, white, and blue and stick around for after the 10 pm game for fireworks! At Mulcahy Stadium. More information and ticket prices are available on their website.
I hope you and your family have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend! As always please feel free to reach out to my office anytime with questions or concerns.
Representative Andy Josephson
Alaska House of Representatives, District 17
Serving Midtown, University and East Anchorage Neighborhoods