OUR SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR SENDS SENATOR BACK FOR ACTING LESSONS
By ART CHANCE
Sen. Bill Wielechowski’s dog and pony show is over: The Alaska Supreme Court slapped him around a bit in his lawsuit against Gov. Bill Walker for his veto of $666.4 million from Alaskans’ Permanent Fund dividends.
That loss was predictable because the whole thing was just playing for the people in the cheap seats. He never had a real chance.
I started writing this after the decision, and then let it simmer while I absorbed comments in Pravda and social media; it got dumber by the minute leading me to believe that Alaska’s primary problem is not revenue, it is ignorance; most Alaskans simply do not know enough about our civic affairs to participate intelligently in our government.
Wielechowski’s suit was just a play for the poor and the stupid.
I know him, dealt with him as a union rep; I don’t like him, and he’s far from the sharpest stick in the stack, but he isn’t dumb enough to think this lawsuit was anything other than a dog and pony show.
The only thing I can figure is that he thought he could keep this going into the election season; maybe he thought he could be the hero of the poor or maybe he thought he’d just keep the game going.
I don’t really think he was dumb enough to think he could win this case; you’d have to be really dumb to think that.
Somebody can enlighten me, but I can’t think of a single case in Alaska history in which the Alaska Supreme Court held that some statutory enactment was “self-appropriating;” that the existence of a statutory program obligated the State to fund that program even if the Legislature didn’t appropriate funds.
Since Wielechowski is owned, a made man, by the unions, he of all people should understand this.
It has been the union complaint since the Public Employment Relations Act was enacted in 1972 that the Legislature had appropriation authority over the monetary terms of a labor agreement with the State. That meant that the union had to own both the Governor and the Legislature to get a sweetheart deal.
The unions didn’t like that and have fought it ever since.
The essence of this is that no public funds can be disbursed except pursuant to an appropriation by the Legislature.
While the dividend enabling language says how the funds are to be apportioned, they must still be appropriated by the Legislature in order for the Executive Branch to disburse the funds.
Therefore, if there is a legislative appropriation, the Governor has the authority to line item veto some or all of that appropriation. That is all the Alaska Supreme Court said: The dividend is the same as any other appropriation.
Walker’s veto is a political issue, not a legal issue. He had every legal right to do it.
Now he can find out if it was the right political position. As for Wielechowski, he’s just a scammer preying on the “aginners,” the poor and the stupid.
Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon. He only writes for Must Read Alaska when he’s banned from posting on Facebook. Chance coined the phrase “hermaphrodite Administration” to describe a governor who is both a Republican and a Democrat, but neither. This was a grave insult to hermaphrodites but he has not apologized.