Ben Stevens: Legislative leaders never asked about supplemental budget - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, December 8, 2021
HomePoliticsBen Stevens: Legislative leaders never asked about supplemental budget

Ben Stevens: Legislative leaders never asked about supplemental budget

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An emergency joint session of the Legislature was called for Friday at 10:30 am to attempt to override two of the governor’s vetoes from last year.

The chief of staff to the governor said it came as a surprise. Ben Stevens said the Administration didn’t learn of the joint session, nor what the topic was, until 5:30 pm on Thursday.

Stevens told the Alaska Miners Association in Juneau this morning that legislative leaders from the House and Senate never reached out to him or the Administration to find out what is in the governor’s supplemental budget.

As it turns out, one of the two items that Senate President Cathy Giessel and Speaker Bryce Edgmon want to override from last year’s budget vetoes is included in the supplemental budget, which is due to the Legislature in two weeks.

The matter concerns ferry funding. Last year, the Legislature cut $43 million from the ferry system under an agreement made between Senator Bert Stedman of Sitka and the Dunleavy Administration. The Legislature then worked $5 million back into the ferry budget, but it was vetoed by the governor in August.

However, in the months ensuing, the Administration has looked at how to help remote coastal communities that depend on the ferries and have no roads. Thus, the governor’s supplemental budget assigns $12.5 million more for the ferry system.

And since August, a $250,000 study of how to restructure the ferry system has been conducted, and was recently released.

As for the school bond debt reimbursement, Stevens said that an annual audit of the various school funds for districts around the state shows that there are more than $500 million sitting in those funds that could be used by districts to pay back their bonds.

Some areas of the state have already increased their local mill rate to accommodate the loss of the state reimbursement funds for the bonds that local voters have approved in past years. The state has picked up those payments for years, but the Dunleavy Administration put a hard stop on the program, due to a lack of state funds.

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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

  • Just another end-around attempt to try and take out the executive branch. If you want to test someone’s character give them a little bit of power and you’ll see everything you need to know about that person. That’s what Abraham Lincoln once said. And I think it speaks volumes about Bryce Edgmon and our current Senate rino.

  • When I lived in the Anchorage Borough, Superintendent of Schools Carol Comeau promoted the free money from the SOA. No news media ever said it was temporary funding that could be eliminated at any time. So the Anchorage school district when on a building spree using the “we only have to pay for a little bit of it” way of thinking. Some of us said it could come back to bite us in the ass during lean times. When it happened, Anchorage considered it a surprise. You asked for new buildings financed by someone else and now the bill is due. Pay for your mistake. Just another note, never promote an elementary school teacher as head of the school district. Having knowledge of what is good for the kids without any financial background is a recipe for financial disaster. Live with it, voters.

  • To all of you in the minority of the state’s population that desires more money to fund the welfare ferry system, live with the cuts. You should be happy the SOA is funding the AMHS at all. The state-funded welfare AMHS is out-of-date and needs to be reformed. Boot the unions out of the process. Privatize the ferry system. Going to the local newspapers with big alligator tears in your eyes is getting on the rest of the state’s nerves. Shut up and find a way to fund a local problem with local people and money. Yes, there is a need, but not at the present budget funding level.

  • I have a note to the Island Dwellers in SE Alaska. Your out-of-date union run and SOA-funded days are curtailed if not over forever. Nobody in the rest of the state cares how many Costco trips you will miss. Got a doctor’s appointment in Anchorage, book a flight. You have yet to take matters into your own hands and come up with a way to get from WHERE you live and where YOU want to go. All you can do is keep sending articles to the local newspapers with great big alligator tears in your eyes about how ill-done-to you are and how the Governor is mistreating you. You are the biggest cry babies in the state, which puts you at the top of a long list of freeloaders. The Governor did not schedule two of your ferries into drydock at the same time. That was union state workers. You get what you pay for, which is zero. You better start acting for a remedy of your own devices or get ready to live in isolation. The ferry system will never operate in the red like in the past.

  • Mike,
    AMHS is the Highway for several Coastal Communities, unfortunately it has been Politically mismanaged for for the past 30 plus years. All SOA Highways operate in the red from Ketchikan to Prudhoe Bay to Kodiak to Anchorage to Dutch Harbor and back. AMHS is an essential part of the SOA Highway system and is required to be managed with Alaskans in mind. Presently AMHS is being managed by Politics and Unions which is not an efficient way to manage anything. As far as the biggest cry babies in the state you are wrong. The SOA’s biggest cry babies in the state are, Anchorage’s liberal Mayor, liberal Assembly and liberal Legislators along with Unions and Special Interest Groups. ?

  • Yes, Anchorage does top the list because of its size. The unions and special interest non-profits do-gooders are at the top of the list right next to state union workers statewide. Put some of the grant chasers back on the street. Privatize large parts of the state government.

    • Privatize non-profits and collection of union dues. Implement right to work. Sell Alaska Aerospace. Public Service Unions pay their staff from Union dues, LWOP from their public service jobs. Move legislative sessions to Anchorage, no new buildings, no per diem unless you reside out side of a 60-mile circle from Anchorage. Stop the caucus, stop “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours” politics as usual, eliminate the deficit by eliminating Waste, fraud and abuse. I totally agree Anchorage’s liberals are the biggest cry babies and cost Us a lot of money to maintain their Lifestyle.

  • Just a thought – the Interior communities that are not on the road system utilize air travel to get where they want to go. The state does not build and fly the airplanes. If the AMHS was privatized or eliminated, the coastal communities would be able to use air travel.

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