Censored: Republicans forbidden from saying ‘slush fund’ on House floor

Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Chugiak-Wasilla, makes the case for reduced spending on the floor of the House.

While the dozens of budget cuts offered by Republicans in the Alaska House of Representatives are being summarily voted down in their entirety, House minority members are now being told what words they can and cannot use during House floor sessions.

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon and Rules Chairman Gabrielle LeDoux have issued rules of order that prohibit House members from using the term “bureaucrats” to refer to state workers, or “slush fund” to describe the miscellaneous funds that have no particular purpose, such as the one illustrated here:

Line 3011 in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development is labeled “Other Services,” and is described as “Other services for purposes yet to be determined.” Call it any other name, but it is clearly a slush fund.

The 2017 budget item for this slush fund was $323,800, which was almost double the 2016 amount of $137,300.

This year, the governor asked for  $411,200, a 27 percent increase in “slush” over 2017’s budget and a whopping 300 percent increase in two years. For purposes yet to be determined. At a time when Alaska is running a multi-billion dollar deficit. Yes, really.

And this is just one of the more glaring examples.  The operating budget is riddled with extra funds, but only in Labor and Workforce Development are they labeled in such a vague way. Budget hawks in the Republican minority have been combing through the budget looking for places to cut.

Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Chugiak-Wasilla, flagged this item for reduction in a year when there are not nearly enough revenues to pay for the $4.3 billion budget the governor has proposed. Tilton’s proposed cut was voted down in the House Finance Committee but will likely be part of the package of amendments that is brought to the House floor for one last attempt at a budget cut.

Additional sanctions have been placed on Republican House members that prohibit them from making any reference to the $4 billion that House Finance Chairman Paul Seaton wants moved from the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account, a move that would strip the Republican minority from being able to use its leverage on the budget.

Instead of calling budget items slush funds, Republicans are now referring to them as “supplemental discretionary spending funds.”

There’s no word yet on what they will call bureaucrats.

Cue George Orwell.

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