Grassroots group has boots on ground in Juneau on same day a dire revenue forecast is predicted to hit

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A group of grassroots activists from across the state came to Alaska’s Capitol to visit lawmakers on Tuesday and speak in support of conservative budget principles, in opposition to state pension plans being reintroduced, why jacking up spending on schools with more “Base Student Allocation” commitments is a bad idea right now, and the importance of the “No Patient Left Alone Act.”

Americans for Prosperity Alaska hosted the group of 36 Alaskans from places like Fairbanks, North Pole, Kenai, Homer, Palmer, and Anchorage, and the Alaskans spent the day engaging with lawmakers. Some had never been to Alaska’s capital city, and so they are getting the full picture of the compact downtown, the smell of marijuana wafting through the streets, and the center of government’s college campus-like atmosphere.

Their timing could not have been more perfect. In addition to a relatively beautiful spring day in Juneau, a very gloomy financial forecast from the Department of Revenue was set to be announced; appears that there is a significant gap and that the State may come up short in this fiscal year alone, which ends June 30.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has scheduled a press conference for later in the day on the Revenue Forecast topic, but the buzz around the Capitol is that the amount could be as much as a $250 million shortfall.

Alaska’s budget is tied in part to how high the price of Alaska North Slope crude oil remains, the tax formula tied to that oil, as well as how many barrels are produced. The budget increasingly relies on transfers of funds from the Alaska Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account. The ERA currently has nearly $14 billion in it, but all but $3.9 billion are dollars already committed. A budget patch would likely come from the Constitutional Budget Reserve.

Also a hot topic today is pending legislation that would raise the salaries of legislators and the governor. On Monday, the governor vetoed a bill from the Legislature that disapproved the proposed 67% pay raise for lawmakers, 20% pay raise for the governor, and 20% pay raise for commissioners. The governor fired the members of the compensation commission and appointed a new commission, which has made the current salary recommendations.

Legislators have not had a pay raise since 2010 and those supporting large families may be nearly eligible for SNAP benefits at this point, since inflation has been aggressive in recent years.

The Americans for Prosperity Alaska group met for 20 minutes with House Speaker Cathy Tilton of Wasilla before fanning out across the building in groups on Tuesday. The Alaskans have over 50 meetings scheduled with Republicans, Democrats, and nonaligned members of both the House and Senate. Only a handful of legislators said they were too busy to take a meeting.

29 COMMENTS

  1. If legislators are concerned with their salaries, look no further than their constituents as many have non seen a pay raise for longer. Also serving in Juneau is supposed to be a calling not a career. If the money is not right. Resign and get a real job. Most are not worth the money they are paid

    • I’m sympathetic to the pay issue, but it’s a self inflicted wound. The legislature should be done in 90 days.
      But they drag it out all year.

      We could also save a load of bucks by moving the capital to the road system.
      But that requires them to be accessible to the bulk of their constituents. Can’t have that.

    • Must agree with Courtenay. Those accomplished enough to hold office without pay are most likely to have the skill-sets we need of them to make the best legislative decisions. And, they would be the least wasteful with time due to being in office at their own cost.

      • They already make a salary of some $50K for 3 months work, unless they are extended into special session, at which time they impose per diem entitlements of another $34K, which usually lasts another 3 months. Feeding at the public trough breeds fat public servants always wanting and expecting more.

  2. Good on everyone of those folks for taking the tune to put their shoulder to the wheel to try to get something positive done at the legislature…The state does not have an income problem it has a spending problem, is way over bloated in almost every agency and yet no one is talking about cutting back on anything or making things run better with what they already have

    • Charlie Bussell is a very wise Patriot! We would all be wise to listen to him and act in response!

    • Why is road access bad Maureen? 90% of Alaskans own a vehicle.
      What are you afraid of? The shrinking of Juneau?
      Which produces more carbon, driving to a capital or flying back & forth on Jet fuel?

  3. Parnell said back when this level of spending was unsustainable, but signed off on a budget anyway. Since then it’s been off to the races.

    Our government has grown well beyond our ability to fund. And they want more.

    The bill will come due. Hard. And the citizens of Alaska will have to pay it. The holy state government must grow. Holy state workers must get perks beyond the private sector.

    Expect two things, possibly as soon as this session. The end of the PFD and the return of income taxes.

  4. You know they are eyeing the Perm Fund corpus. Hungrily.

    All that money just sitting there when they could be spending it.

  5. While I agree with afp’s positions; I disagree with Tilton posing visitors in front of the speakers desk for a photo op.

    Mark my words, before the end of this session, drag queens, environmentalist wackos, communist party members and every other group will be swarming the capital demanding photos with the speaker in order to legitimize one goofy cause or another.

    Bad precedent.

  6. If these generations are serious about not
    working until 90 years of age, they’ll start making Alaska live within its means until the Day of the Lord come. This
    not the time to be a glutton.

    • So it’s this generation’s fault that Alaska’s government is spending outside of it’s means?

      I just did some quick research (about 5 min on wikipedia) into the ages of our current State House. Of the 21 who I could find ages for the average age is 54.1 years old. The youngest house member, Rep. Mina is 27 and the oldest is Rep Shaw at 73. Of those 21 with ages listed, only 4 are under 40 and only 6 are under 50.

      So please Jen, tell us how this over spending is Gen Z or the Millennials fault?

      Seems to me that the Boomers are the ones who have a real spending problem in this state.

  7. $250 Million deficit? That’s peanuts! $3.9 Billion draw from the Permanent Fund and they still need to raid the CBR again?
    Such a great job they should give themselves a raise! …..oh

    • BTW. Do I understand that all unused appropriations now still roll back into the CBR?
      It’s so confusing.

  8. So the legislators won’t/can’t cut 250 million out of a multi-billion dollar budget to come close to balancing the budget? Line item veto should fix that. Or get new legislators that will cut the budget. They all talk a good talk during the vote for me phase, but things go to heck once they get into Juneau.

  9. Well good luck w/ the food stamps ….another thing they have messed up (didn’t bother to modernize)

  10. This should have its own article. “On Monday, the governor vetoed a bill from the Legislature that disapproved the proposed 67% pay raise for lawmakers, 20% pay raise for the governor, and 20% pay raise for commissioners. The governor fired the members of the compensation commission and appointed a new commission, which has made the current salary recommendations.” The legislature voted against a 67% pay raise, the governor then vetoed their disapproval so they will get the pay raise unless the legislature overrules the veto…anyone want to bet there’s never a vote to override the veto?

    “Legislators have not had a pay raise since 2010 and those supporting large families may be nearly eligible for SNAP benefits at this point, since inflation has been aggressive in recent years.” We have a voluntary part time Legislature with a 90 day statutory limit and a 121 day constitutional limit made up of citizens, they are also ciurrently the 5th highest paid legislature when per diem is included.

    Someone has some explaining to do.

  11. It’s great to see the younger generation becoming active in public policy. Thanks Bernadette Wilson for generating enthusiasm with these folks. Keep the pressure up to influence the legislators.

  12. As a second comment- Having just computed the cost for a round trip on our famous “Titanic” Ferry system, between Ketchikan and Bellingham at $3700.00 (one senior adult, compact car and small inside room). At the same time booking a airline flight between Ketchikan and Bellingham will cost me zero $0. as I like most Alaskans, have air miles. As to car-I will rent a car in Bellingham for $150.00 for the time needed. So- perhaps as the cost of “Our” ferry system, currently down to one main liner and couple of “village boats”. yet being run by a full fledged administration staffed to the historical number of employees several at over $100,00.00 salary for a fleet of derrick ferries of past history May be time to “Sink” the system, which I might add, was originally designed to terminate in Prince Rupert (Original intent was to access a “Road Connection” Seattle and Bellingham were political additions pure and simple, no matter the claim that the route is “Profitable”, The system and the legislators, current and past have failed the intent and the system. sad to say.

  13. I wish state “government” was permeable to the wishes and directives of we the people.

    I don’t care what “they” do elsewhere but here I would like to be able to penetrate the fog of group think.

    Governor you are doing it again. Are you conscious that your easement granted by you to the USFS is unconstitutional. Do not give the tide lands of Alaskan back to Great Britain. It is repugnant. It took heaven and earth to get the US Homestead Act. “HOMEstead”. What does that mean? Residential use. Right. Now, support the remnants of the homestead act. Do not take the perpetuity of use of the tidelands and return them to England/USFS in the form of an easement in perpetuity back to the federal government. Are you nuts? COME ON AG! US Constitution!

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