ROAD TRIP WILL PIT DEMOCRAT-LED MAJORITY AGAINST GOP GOVERNOR
The House Finance Committee is hitting the road to take testimony from people all over Alaska, according to Speaker Bryce Edgmon, a Dillingham Democrat who recently changed his party to undeclared to allow Democrats to control the House.
The purpose of the trip, details of which are yet to be revealed, is for Finance Committee members to have field hearings about the governor’s proposed budget, with its $1.6 billion in cuts, and the yet-to-be revealed House Democrat-led Majority alternative budget.
Over a month has passed since the governor proposed his budget, and neither the House nor Senate have offered an alternative. But they have held numerous hearings.
At a third public hearing today on the ferry system cuts, the House Transportation Committee heard from more ferry proponents, angered by the proposed 75 percent cut to the Alaska Marine Highway System. One of the callers said it was a form of “political terrorism” to cut the ferry system. Another said it was obvious that ferry riders were not among the governor’s “special interest groups.” By now, hundreds have testified in that committee alone over the past three days.
Following the speaker’s announcement, Rep. Colleen Sullivan-Leonard (R-Wasilla) released a statement critical of the move:
“After waiting nearly a month to organize the House, the fact that the Democrat-led House Majority now plans to spend tens of thousands of state dollars to fly members around the state campaigning for an increase in government spending in the middle of legislative session is astounding to me,” said Sullivan-Leonard.
“This is a great depiction of why the people of Alaska do not trust in their legislature – we’re in the middle of a huge budget deficit and House leadership wants to spend money that we do not have to try and advocate for spending even more money that we do not have. Other departments in the government are cutting their state travel budgets down by 50% or more – they didn’t give that money to the Democrat-led House Majority to spend for them.”
Sullivan-Leonard noted that members of the House Finance Committee were not made aware of the plans and several of them have already spent time and funds attending town hall meetings and caucuses in their districts.
“Spending precious dollars to peddle political motives in this way is disingenuous and irresponsible,” she said.