LEGISLATURE HAS NOT PASSED BUDGET, GONE HOME FOR FIVE DAYS
The Dunleavy Administration sent a memo to state employees Wednesday, explaining that if the Legislature doesn’t pass a budget by June 30, layoffs could result.
But that layoff notices would be 10 days out from July 1, if a budget still isn’t passed. Dunleavy says the notices would go out on June 14, several days earlier than the 10 days cited in his memo.
Legislators are in the third week of what could be a 30-day special session, which ends June 14.
The Legislature has not passed a final budget and transmitted it to the governor for his action. [Corrected.]
Speaker Bryce Edgmon has authorized airline tickets for everyone to leave Juneau for five to six days for time in their districts and nearly all legislators have left the capital city.
“As you know, the Legislature did not pass an operating budget during the 121 Day regular session. I called for an immediate special session to allow for the Legislature to get a budget passed. We are now two weeks into that special session with no budget as yet,” Gov. Dunleavy wrote to state employees on Wednesday.
“While I have every hope that Legislative leaders will address their prime obligation under the Constitution to approve a budget, the possibility exists that the Legislature may fail to do so before this Special Session ends,” Dunleavy wrote.
“Alaska law and collective bargaining agreements address the notice requirement of possible furloughs or lay-offs. The requirement is that most employees receive ten working days notice from the end of the fiscal year. If the Legislature is still unable to pass an operating budget by June 14, notices will have to be sent to employees.”
PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS ORGANIZING
But the head of the employees’ union says that the layoff notices need to come 30 days before layoffs take effect.
In a memo to Alaska State Employees Association members, Jake Metcalfe wrote to members that “Article 12.04 of the ASEA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the State provides that the appointing authority shall make every effort to give written notice to the employee at least thirty (30) calendar days in advance of the effective date of a possible layoff. Accordingly, you may receive a letter from the State of Alaska giving you notice of layoff, effective July 1, 2019. ”
“Even if layoff notices are issued, ASEA is hopeful that an Operating Budget will be signed into law prior to July 1, 2019 and no layoffs will take place. A similar notice was sent out in 2015, and a shutdown was avoided when the budget was passed and signed prior to July 1 of that year. Failure to deliver an Operating Budget for the coming fiscal year would cause chaos in our economy and interrupt the majority of state programs and services. The Legislature and the Governor are aware of the consequences,” Metcalfe wrote.
“House and Senate versions of the Operating Budget are in the final stage of being reconciled. Monetary terms for the ASEA contract were included in both versions and so the appropriation for wages and benefits was adopted automatically by the Conference Committee. The negotiated 3% wage increase and additional $98 per month contributed by the employer toward health insurance (both effective July 1, 2019) will be included in the Budget submitted to the Governor,” he wrote in a memo titled “BREAKTIME READING.”
“ASEA is in communication with the Administration and the Legislature to ensure an Operating Budget is in place for the new fiscal year. ASEA is also working with Alaska’s other public employee unions and the Alaska AFL-CIO to advocate for the best possible budget compromise. In addition, other interest groups—not just unions—are pushing to get a budget passed soon. They understand that fiscal uncertainty is not in the interest of Alaskans.
“However, ASEA and Alaska still need your help. Helping is simple and easy. Write or call your Legislators and the Governor to ask that they agree a budget which prioritizes public programs and services as well as the state’s economy. I hope your message gives pause to the lawmakers who have expressed support for the Governor’s plans to outsource jobs and transfer constitutionally mandated responsibilities to out-of-state corporations.
“If you don’t know who your Legislators are, call ASEA at (907) 277-5200 or (800) 478-2732 toll free and we’ll provide the email address or phone number for your state lawmakers and the Governor’s office.
“You can also help out by participating in ASEA Member Actions. ASEA will be holding events between now and July 1, as necessary, to get out our message to pass a responsible budget. You can be notified of upcoming actions by text message, just text the word AKLEG to 237263. We will notify you of when ASEA Member Actions are scheduled and ask you to join. Your participation will make a difference.
“Please stay strong, active and involved. I hope this update and future updates provide useful information to navigate the current uncertainty surrounding the Operating Budget. Please call or write anytime if you have questions,” Metcalfe wrote.