The week ahead: That roaring in your ear will be protesters turning up the volume - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, September 15, 2019
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The week ahead: That roaring in your ear will be protesters turning up the volume

IT’S ALL IN REACTION TO 12.5 PERCENT CUT TO THE STATE BUDGET

The week of July 7-14 will be unusually political for midsummer in Alaska. Some will be fishing, of course. Others will be gnashing their collective teeth and sharpening their metaphorical knives over the cuts to the 2020 operating budget.

There will be protests, more letters to the editor, public pronouncements, and even Portugal. The Man (band) will be headlining a protest at the Alaska Airlines Center on the UAA campus on Tuesday for a veto protest concert and rally.

On Monday, the Legislature will gavel in in two places:

In Juneau, the presiding officers Sen. Cathy Giessel and Rep. Bryce Edgmon will gavel in at 1 pm. They’ll have about 35 of the 60 legislators with them.

In Wasilla, about 22 legislators will gather without the official presiding officers. These are the Republicans who believe that since the governor called the special session location at Wasilla, the Legislature is legally required to at least start its proceedings in Wasilla, and then vote on whether to move the special session to Juneau, Anchorage, or elsewhere.

The Wasilla group will be greeted by the Colony High School Marching Band, some baked goods from locals, and a welcome from the mayor.

Likely there will be a handful of legislators who will not be in either location due to excused or unexcused absences.

Aside from the unprecedented nature of having the Legislature convene in two locations, the only thing on the agenda for this special session is the Permanent Fund dividend, unless the session convenes in Wasilla as requested by the governor, in which case items on the capital budget will be added to the call.

In Juneau, the calendar shows that the bicameral working group that has been considering the fate of the Permanent Fund dividend will meet at 9 am on Monday to receive the report from the group. They’ll meet in Senate Finance Room 532.

At 2 pm on Monday, the House Finance Committee will meet in Room 519 in the Capitol to hear an appropriation bill — origins unknown — that would transfer a sum as authorized under statute from the Earnings Reserve Account of the Permanent Fund to the dividend for payment of a full statutorily defined dividend to qualified Alaskans.

Among those on the House Finance Committee who will be missing will be members of the Republican Minority, who contend that the Juneau session is not legitimate or even legal because the governor called the session in Wasilla. They are: Reps. Cathy Tilton, Ben Carpenter, Kelly Merrick, and Colleen Sullivan-Leonard.

Seven other members of House Finance will probably be in Juneau: Reps. Tammie Wilson and Neal Foster, who are co-chairs, Jennifer Johnston, who is vice chair, Daniel Ortiz, Gary Knopp, Bart LeBon, and Andy Josephson.

The same piece of legislation is on the calendar for 9 am Tuesday in House Finance.

From the moment the clock turns to 1 pm on Monday, lawmakers have five days to overturn the governor’s $400 million in vetoes to the operating budget.

The vote to override will likely take place on Tuesday, Must Read Alaska has learned, and the Legislature must have 45 votes to override. Currently, it’s about six votes short, and fewer than 38 members are expected to show up in Juneau. Some of them will not bow to the pressure that is building among the various groups that are making up a loose coalition that is leading the charge to try to override.

Over the past several days, dozens of opinions have been published objecting to the vetoes and imploring an override. The former state Attorney General, Jahna Lindemuth, even wrote a published opinion the vetoes of the budget are unconstitutional. It was an extraordinary pronouncement for the woman entrusted with upholding the law:

“Make no mistake about it: Every Alaskan will be negatively impacted by the governor’s budget cuts. The cuts are deep and wide, and will change our collective way of life unless the Legislature votes to override the cuts. Because services and programs that Alaskans – especially our most vulnerable – count on every day are at stake, Alaska’s constitution is implicated. Unlike every other state, Alaska’s constitution, the foundational document of our state government, mandates that the governor and the Legislature protect the health, safety and welfare of this great state for all Alaskans. That is the very purpose of our state government. The governor’s cuts are not only irresponsible, they are unconstitutional,” she wrote.

Lindemuth is making the extraordinary pronouncement that the 12.5 percent cut to the state budget violates the Alaska Constitution.

“Taken alone, any one of these cuts may not violate the constitution. But collectively, the cuts are unconstitutional because they threaten public safety and the welfare of all Alaskans. Crime will increase exponentially if the Legislature does not reverse these cuts,” wrote the woman who presided over the worst crime spree in Alaska history under former Gov. Bill Walker.

Last week, the Foraker Group held a teleconference with nonprofit groups across Alaska, not advising them how to adjust to the new reality of how budget cuts will trim their grants, but telling them how to effectively protest those cuts.

As the week moves along, expect more chest beating, more pronouncements of doom by others who share Lindemuth’s opinion of the Constitution. Expect more letters to the editor, and maybe even a legal threat or two.

The five-day clock for veto overrides begins Monday at 1 pm and ends on Saturday at 1 pm. The time between those points will be deafening with unions, Democrats, and furloughed university workers joining forces to try to force spending back into the budget.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • You fail to affirm that those that will gavel in while in Juneau are in violation of Alaska statutes as the Governor has the authority under Alaska statute to order time and Place.

    It is an illegal session in Juneau. Troopers need to enforce the damn law by taking this group into custody and deliver these weasels to Wasilla in support of our Governor.

    • Agree

  • See you in Wasilla on Monday. We, Greater Alaska Chapter of AMAC will figure out past Monday then. We conservatives, be they from Kenai, Anchorage, Matsu Valley, Fairbanks, etc. must be prepared to stand with the now 22 solid legislators for this entire fight.

    • Mike,
      I understand your commitment to the Governor and the “Double Deuce” of Legislators gathered in Wasilla, but you must understand that we got to this point by the Conservatives refusing to discuss $B21 or any new taxes to the operating budget.
      I would love to see the $6,700 PFD that the Governor promised during his campaign but I have always known that was unrealistic with our divided Leadership.
      Maybe you should find ways to bring ALL the residents of South Central together in support of the “Double Deuce” gathered in Wasilla…not just conservatives like you said?

      • Steve,

        Had SB21 not been enacted the state would have had much less income from oil for the past few years due to the price of oil. The only people still talking about repealing SB21 are those who do not understand that simple fact.

        Under the previous failed administration taxes were proposed on virtually everything in this state, the tax on the PFD is the only major tax increase put in place. Spending is the issue, not revenue.

        • Steve O,
          $B 21 is the Elephant in the room right now….It did not deliver the volume of new oil once promised or the new jobs.
          Instead we lost thousands of jobs on the slope and revenue is down for the state even with oil above $60/ barrel.
          The forgein producers make $25.00 a barrel off of Alaska’s resource, way more than anywhere else in the world.
          Why are we paying multi billion dollar forgein companies more than a billion dollars a year in “tax incentives” when they already profit billions off our oil?
          Alaska was better under Palin’s ACES program and she new the industry pretty darn well.

          • Revenue is down because the price of oil is down, there is now more oil flowing through the pipeline than before SB21 passed. Had SB21 not passed the state would have had zero to no revenue from oil for the last few years.

            The state does not pay the oil companies any money whatsoever, as in zero. They might tax less under certain circumstances but to say the state pays oil companies is factually incorrect and only something ignorant people and liars say.

            Alaska was better off when oil prices were higher, that is a no brainer, but we would have been much much worse off the last 4-5 years if we were still under aces.

      • Why should we enact any taxes until we have reined in spending to a realistic budget? We are the second highest in the nation in per capita spending. This is not a good thing. Nor is being 1st or 2nd in educational spending ….. for what….? Seriously, I have no issue with a few more taxes if my elected officials are already showing good stewardship of what they already have. But they are not. Collectively speaking.

  • stay strong!

  • Totally agree Ross.

  • Only if the Democrats and Liberals stop any cuts to the current budget by veto can they justify stealing the PFD and handing it over (40%) to the Unions. Your money gone to organized crime syndicate legally and forever. Time for the adults to take charge and stop the irresponsible spending.

  • I keep hearing this over and over…BUT it is NOT true: “Make no mistake about it: Every Alaskan will be negatively impacted by the governor’s budget cuts.”
    How are those in the administration making 6 figure salaries affected?
    How are the administrators working for PF group making 6 figure salaries affected?
    How are the “Slopers” making 6 figure salaries affected?
    How about ALL the public safety and national guard members (some making 6 figure salaries) affected?
    When we get lies from the top, smart citizens protest…hence the gatherings we ar seeing in Anchorage.
    As the legislature is divided at two locations maybe Alaskans should take caution to the important words once said by John Dickinson in his 1768 “Liberty Song”…
    “Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!”

    • Steve, every Alaskan will be affected. I think you are missing the boat here. Think about the services that affect everyone regardless of how much money they make in their personal jobs. And, what about the personal jobs you speak of….
      .
      What is wrong with a 6 figure salary? “Slopers making a 6 figure salary”….how are they affected? What do you mean by that? Do you want to know how they are affected or are you suggesting they shouldn’t make 6 figures? Same with public safety workers? How are they affected or should they not be making 6 figures?
      .
      I know people in both worlds. I have a friend who is a firefighter. He has been one for years. Did he start out as a 6 figure firefighter? Heck no! He has worked years to achieve what he has achieved. He has saved lives and put his own at risk. He is about to retire. Throughout those years he has paid his taxes, raised his children, worked with charities, and contributed to this community in more ways that most of us have. After all of these years, he is in the “6 figure” category that you speak of.
      .
      Yep, he will be affected by the cuts, but maybe not in the same way as some of the loud, ranting, people we see in the news that hang their hats and their entire lives on handouts from the State. He plans and saves and makes accommodations and adjustments in his family budget. But, he too will be affected.

      • Garnet,
        If I am missing the boat, then why are thousands of people in Anchorage organized in Protest against this lopsided Austerity plan offered by the administration?
        I am not against public Safety workers as I myself worked as a paramedic for many years…my point is that a 5 percent cut “accross the board” would have been much different than choosing education and health/social services for the chopping block.
        This will have more “down stream” consequences in the future…
        Sure, UAA has waste in their system, but so do ALL bureaucratic offices that are funded through this state run economy in Alaska.
        The “slope” is a topic in and of itself…45 percent of the workforce up there do not even live in AK.
        This means without an income tax, these thousands who benifit from some of the highest incomes in the state will never give back to Alaska.
        In light of the “tax credits” as well to their industry…you can see why our budget is in the shape it is in.
        Focusing on the PFD too much only causes blurred vision around the real problem which is a lack of new revenue streams associated with the current state budget.

        • Steve, your comment kept referring to the “6 figure salary” which I commented on. I still don’t understand what you were getting at with that reference and why that matters. People should make what they can. Maybe you disagree with that or maybe it is I that is missing the boat? I too was a public servant. I never made 6 figures and that was ok. I loved what I did and the people that I served.
          .
          Oh that pesky PFD. I’m a born and raised Alaskan – yep – one of those uppity ones. I was here for the first $1,000 check and will be here for the last one; whether by death of me or the program. Hopefuly the latter….HORRORS!! Until then, follow the law. Not very popular among my friends, but I was sick of what it has become a long, long time ago. I seldom pissed away a PFD and I NEVER pissed away my child’s PFD. It went to a college fund and said child ended up with an undergrad with zero debt and is in a doctor program as I write this. We are very, very grateful for that. BUT, look what it has become? It is a fight. It is looked at as social welfare here and across the nation/world. Gimme, gimme, gimme (by the people and gov’t). The rabid legislators sit in their tax laboratory, frothing at the mouth, tweaking and “interpreting” the laws and rules to come up with new ways to take more and more.
          .
          Former Sen. Jerry Mackie hatched a plan back in the day to cash out the fund and pay $25K to every eligible Alaskan with the rest of the fund for the Govt. (or something like that – it’s been awhile and I haven’t seen Jerry in awhile). His idea got trampled. I say resurrect it!
          .
          Lastly, thousands of people are protesting because we have created this pathetic, social welfare mess. When the handouts get cut off, it is the “sky is falling” rampage commie tactics rather than the reasonable, meeting of the minds to develop a plan to do good things with less. Some municipalities across the State have zero protests but large cuts. Why is this? They planned. They didn’t ignore what was coming. They planned, met with the community, made adjustments and now the sting isn’t so “stingy”. What a concept.
          .
          Stay hydrated and stay cool. It’s going to be another scorcher in southcentral.
          .

    • Of course it will be painful but I do not agree with word negative. When I lift weights I experience pain as a price for getting stronger – I don’t consider this negative. We have become bloated in our decades of wealth and the money is running out yet we are still bloated. We need to get back to a reasonable level of spending and it is never easy learning to live on less. And ‘6 figures’ in today’s economy is no longer outlandish and the ‘6 figures’ you refer to most likely include insurance and benefits. Have you ever owned a business? What exactly do you do? Apologies for my nosiness…..It is very costly to employ people. Am wondering if you are aware of this. Lastly, the oil companies still provide 1/3 of the jobs in this state and we still rely on oil for about 65% of our state revenue. Likely you know this already.

      • Exactly Elizabeth! I don’t understand Steve’s hang up on 6 figure salaries. So what?
        .
        Alaska will be fine. Hunker down. Cut the budget. This screaming and hollering is just noise. Babies not getting their way.

  • Well this is what we have do to Rep Gary Knopp desire to create a counter weight to the newly elected Governor. A splintered legislature, no capital budget, a 2nd special session, vetoed budget and no PFD thank you very much Gary…. NOT!

    • Yep! And if I recall, he claimed it was to bring people “together” or some BS like that. He snorted the Kool Aid that guy!

  • The Alaska Legislature will convene in Wasilla.

    The Alaska Lawlesslature will cower in Juneau – in fear of those who elected them.

    Not wholly irrational considering that most people are not big fans of those who have betrayed them and their families.

    • Senate President and House Speaker will be in Juneau and, most likely, will have a quorum. There will be no convening in Wasilla but a bunch of individuals showing up for photos until the troopers show up with the handcuffs. Heheh!

    • Both House and Senate convened in Juneau and they both had a quorum to conduct business. The Senate removed Mia Costello as majority leader and replaced her with Hoffman.
      As you can see they are cowering in Juneau. Heheh!

      • Laugh it up Bill

        “Any action they take in Juneau, contrary to the governor’s call for a special session is subject to being voided or just declared null and void,”

        https://www.ktva.com/story/40755785/former-lawmaker-to-file-suit-over-special-session-location

        • Steve-O, subject to being null and void is not the same thing as being null and void!
          Are you taking bets on the said lawsuit? Heheh!
          My prediction is there is not a chance in a carload this legislative special session will be declared null and void.

      • It is the cowering Juneau crowd that are breaking the law. They are so desperate to keep their actions hidden, God forbid they do business where constituents can be part of the process. 😳. Validation that all legislative sessions should be near the greater population base.

        • As you can see on Gavel Alaska Elizabeth, they are really cowering. They are doing their business in front of the cameras because they are so desperate to keep things hidden.
          Do you ever read what you write??
          Have you ever watched live a committee meeting on Gavel Alaska, or a House or Senate session? Pretty obvious you have not.
          Try it out sometime.

  • I had high hopes for the Governor and the Legislature this year. Now I only hope that things do not get worse.
    Regardless of a persons opinion on the Constitutional issues concerning the special session location – the Wasilla theatrics will accomplish nothing and further polarize an already polarized electorate.

    • Chris,
      I agree with you and it does seem that the Republican tactics of putting Republicans against Republicans has back fired.
      ADN just did a good story on this where James Brooks wrote:
      “The chairman of the state party at the time, Tuckerman Babcock, is now chief of staff to Gov. Mike Dunleavy, and Stutes said the decision to pit Republicans against each other has “come back around, and it’s eroding the Republican Party.”

      • Steve, quotes from Stutes are hilarious. I do agree that the Republicans have some serious problems; mainly figuring out who are really Republicans within their own party!

    • I think the theatrics lie in Juneau.

      • There you go thinking again, Garnet.

        • Bill, it is clear that we usually disagree, but really? This is your contribution to my comment? I don’t want to go “thinking” again, so I will go out on a limb and say I KNOW you can do better. (there I go “knowing” again!) At least give me one of your “heheh’s” or “IMO”. I have ceased commenting on your input for awhile now, but I couldn’t pass up your sophomoric response of “there you go ‘thinking’ again”. I’ll try to ease up on that.

  • It takes no guts or fortitude to yell, scream, and beg for funding. It takes A WHOLE LOT OF GUTS AND FORTITUDE to scale back the flow of government money. This is why Alaskans elected Governor Dunleavy. This is the course the majority of Alaskans chose back in November of 2018. DUNLEAVY STRONG!

    • Thank you Governor Dunleavy for your strong leadership.

    • MAVERICK, I completely agree. This rampage is used by those that can’t sit down and formulate reasonable dialog. Pitchforks and torches. The crazier they get, the more secure the next election is for conservatives.

      • True, Garnet. The Democrats formula is a losing one because it goes against the grains of common sense. People don’t naturally want a fight, unless it upheaves their core principles. Maverick nailed it.

  • Those legislators in Juneau ought to be ashamed of themselves. It’s inexplicable what they are doing. Get the job done, that’s what you were elected to do. Do you feel no shame for wasting all this money? It’s embarrassing.

  • I sincerely hope there is a number of troopers ready at the capitol tomorrow morning to help them understand the error of their ways and what they are supposed to do.

  • It’s plain to see, the dim/socialists want to be far away and secluded from any nay-sayers to their inane “session”, constitutional mandate or not. Their otiose actions will only further widen the rift between true Alaskans and those who would pillage and plunder Alaska’s remaining wealth, at every Alaskan’s expense, only to further their socialist agenda. Laws, constituent direction, constitutional mandates, the well being of the State of Alaska, responsibility and common sense are not a concern of those idiots “meeting” in Juneau, at citizens’ expense. The best/only solution to this iconoclastic behavior is to support Governor Dunleavy and his budget and remember these fools at the election booth. The dims/socialist have already resorted to every means available to derail Governor Dunleavey. Now, with no success, they and “public” officials/employees are resorting to illegal, un-constitutional and disgraceful methods to promote their non-agenda. Stand against this, Alaskans, for the very survival of our State and the Alaskans that reside here.

    • Well Ben, this too shall pass and it will be “true Alaskans” that solve the problems. Go ahead and attempt to stand against this but you will look foolish IMO.

  • The little Cole dwarfs, twins Dermot and Terrence, will start the protest off on Monday in Fairbanks as they tell the Democrats and Lefties how much they hate Dunleavy and Republicans. All old rhetoric made to reinspire worn-out Lefties who keep forgetting. The Living Dead and the Dying Living, barely alive, but delivering their absolute last, grand finale, farewell, bon voyage, lecture at UAF. Memorial service to follow.

    • Maybe I will attend the memorial service if its not too long and unstimulating, like their books and their lectures.

  • We finally get a politician brave enough to try and have a balanced budget and everyone is up in arms. It appears most Alaskans have no ‘common sense’ sooner or later we must live on what we take in and the longer we put it off the larger the cutbacks will be.

    kudos to the governor

    • Just stop with the BS Pete, this governor has no intention of balancing the budget. His full PFD thing blows the budget completely out of the water and won’t get by the House. Hard to say what the Senate does as they still seem to be tied on their thinking.

  • It’s time that Alaskans get off the “Public Tit” and get the budget under control. Every one of us needs to come together and make some concessions for ALASKA. Not for your personal little world. Everybody in this state can come up with a reason why their little group or special interests needs more money. Money that the state just doesn’t have. Most of us live on a budget in our daily lives, but for some reason, there are people who can’t seem to grasp that idea (Legislators). Just get the budget under control!!

    • With a split legislature, no work gets done. But, no override either.
      DUNLEAVY STRONG!

  • If Tammie Wilson ends up in Juneau with the Democrats, I will start a campaign against her for the 2020 election. She’s a fool if she goes to Juneau because there will not be enough votes for an override.

    • If you were to have a conversation with her, she would likely say to you that this was her plan all along. With the House closely divided there never was a way for it to show any budget leadership, even had the R’s stayed together. She knew there would never be the votes to override so she used her position to gain a seat in finance to exert a voice of sanity in that portion of the sausage factory. Same with her PFD initiative: she knew it would be rejected by the people but the House Dems needed to be shown. And it worked well.

      But the complexities of the Legislative sausage machine also make the process opaque to the ignorant.

      • “Voice of sanity” for who? For the Democrats who would use Tammie Wilson like a piece of toilet paper once it’s clear they no longer need her? Or, the RINO’s who basically hate Wilson because she dresses like a hillbilly and is not “cut of their cloth?” Certainly not a voice of sanity for the Republicans who have stuck with the governor through this mess. Any way you look at, Wilson…..no matter how smart she thinks she is, will end up in the boneyard by her lonesone. Maybe she will open up a pawn shop in North Pole in 2020. She won’t survive reelection. That’s a given. Wilson has lost her sanity.

        • Totally agree, Naomi.

  • Watch Alaska Senator Natasha Von Imhof June 19, 2019 floor speech about how you don’t care about what happens to your pfd?
    video click on the below link.

    https://www.360north.org/gavel/video/?clientID=2147483647&eventID=2019061028&startStreamAt=2471&stopStreamAt=2491

    Senator Natasha Von Imhof
    907-465-2995
    800-365-2995
    Senator.Natasha.vonImhof@akleg.gov

  • I am amazed at how much time Mr. Stine has to comment in this forum.

    The legislators convening in Juneau might be able to gavel in their special session, but since the session can only take up the PFD, how is that going to help the people who want the Governor’s vetoes overridden?

  • I am amazed at how much time Mr. Stein has to comment in this forum.

    The legislators convening in Juneau might be able to gavel in their special session, but since the session can only take up the PFD, how is that going to help the people who want the Governor’s vetoes overridden?

    • Randy, Stein is a government worker. In other words, they have 40 hrs a week to play on the computer and get paid for it by the State of Alaska.

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