Failure to override vetoes



The surprise joint session of the state House and Senate today failed to override the governor’s budget vetoes pertaining to $5 million for the ferry system and $70 million in school bond debt reimbursement and funds for rural schools.

The vote was 37 to override to 20 against overriding, and came after three hours of floor speeches, mostly from those in favor of the override. However, the attempt to override needed 45 votes to succeed.

The votes on the veto overrides from today’s joint session.

Although it appears a momentary victory for budget hawks, who pointed out that the state is facing a $1.5 billion gap in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2021 budget, the vote was also a stark demonstration to the Dunleavy Administration of where the battle lines will be drawn on the next budget.

The three members who were absent would have brought the override “nay” votes to 23, but today’s vote shows the vast majority of the Legislature was in favor of breaking the deal crafted by Sen. Bert Stedman with Gov. Mike Dunleavy last year, when it came to funding the ferries at $43 million, and are not likely to seek real state savings.

Senators and representatives gave reporters plenty of opportunities for sound bites, and the futility of it was pointed out by Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux of Anchorage, who said she was pretty good at counting and she didn’t see the votes present, which made her wonder why a matter was brought to the floor, when it was not ripe for passage.

In some ways, it may be the culmination of a year of House and Senate leaders failing to communicate with the Governor’s Office.

The day’s theater performance foreshadows budget battles ahead: In order to access the Constitutional Budget Reserve, the Legislature will need three quarters from both bodies to agree — 45 votes in all. That will be a key sticking point for completing the Legislature’s work in the statutory 90 days, and will put pressure on some legislators who are facing reelection.

Senate President Cathy Giessel conferred for 15 minutes with Sen. Tom Begich, Sen. Gary Stevens, and House Speaker Bryce Edgmon during an at-ease today. She also attempted to convince Sen. Peter Micciche, top right, to vote to override the vetoes.

In fact, today’s joint session may have been about setting people up to be put on record, in advance of using this vote against some legislators in the coming November election — legislators from ferry port districts who are facing reelection.

That theory was supported when two members of the Democrat-led House Majority — one a Republican and the other a Democrat — were heard talking in the hallways about using today’s vote to “take people out.”


  1. Well frick & frack got shot down. This strong arm move of theirs that is reminiscent of the night of the Long knives when the Nazis took over Germany got filed where it belongs … the wastebasket. They are persistent however and I’m looking forward to round two.

  2. Leadership knew they had no chance. The effort was probably just a to let Giessel test out how well her new committee members will obey her edicts when it comes to voting.

  3. What Bryce and Cathy need to be focusing on is the opioid crisis in our village, women being abused, the House majority stealing the PFD from needy families, government spending out of control, are in apt University system being overfunded, things like these is what our Representatives need to be focusing on instead of who has the best shot at taking out dunleavy. The socialist Democrats and rhinos currently infesting are legislative branches need to remember back to their first month on the job and why they took the office to begin with rather than the power mongrels that they’ve become. The partisan politics that they’re playing is not what’s best for Alaska, it’s what they perceived to be what’s best for Bryce and Kathy.

      • In fact it is a version, but modern society can’t run without versions of social programs. Social security is one of them and the welfare program although it is abused is needed, public transportation is another, I guess I’m more pissed that they did steal it rather than what they stole. I hate a thief.

  4. The AMHS got funded to the tune of 96.4 million (HB 39) with a couple of add-ons, 5 million and 13.5 million in subsequent packages. The word we are getting from some legislators is that 300 million is needed to return to full operation. I couldn’t even find the Governor’s 5 million veto anywhere.

    Just like Education, there needs to be some changes to how things are being done. Using the People’s dividends as the way forward is not good policy. The vote today pretty much shows where things are politically. Even though the override didn’t happen, neither are the votes their to override the vetoes this coming session.

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