Kevin McCabe: What went wrong? The ineffective budget and PFD trick bumps up against the Alaska Constitution



It’s time Alaska’s government was honest with its people. It’s time we started following our laws.

Symbolic of our problem is the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality ingrained in Juneau and found in the recent essay from an Anchorage senator from the one of Alaska’s wealthiest districts.

The operating budget, which keeps Alaska’s government open for business, failed to pass the Legislature with enough support to make it effective in time for the new fiscal year. It is, in fact, a defective budget. The Alaska Constitution (Article 2, sec. 18) is very clear on this point: Unless a supermajority in both the House and Senate agree on a different date, all bills go into effect 90 days after enactment.

This operating budget failed to garner the two-thirds votes necessary to shorten that effective date. There is no legal or constitutional workaround, as has been done with prorated per diem, lowering the annual Permanent Fund dividend amount, or blowing through a 90-day voter-imposed session time limit. The Constitution has these rules for a reason. The government will not have funds on July 1 unless legislators negotiate in good faith to reach a real compromise.

A beginning of the solution would be asking critics like the good senator, and others who share her perspective, to spend a little less time accusing Alaskans of “greed and entitlement,” and asking those of us who voted “nay” what our motivations were.

I’m willing to sit down and talk to any one of my colleagues, despite what our critics are attempting to portray. My vote belongs to the constituents of my district.

I represent one of the most conservative House districts in the state. My neighbors overwhelmingly support following the Permanent Fund dividend law. In fact, they strongly believe they are rightfully owed the PFD money first taken during Gov. Bill Walker’s tenure and then by the Legislature during ensuring years. Further, they believe the PFD should be paid first, not last. This budget did not reflect any of my district’s values.

In fact, this bully budget was fundamentally coercive and directly used Mat-Su Borough children and elderly as political pawns. Members of the respective majorities employed budgetary parlor games such as pitting the amount of the PFD against capital projects such as the Houston Middle School (condemned from the 2018 earthquake), the Palmer Veteran’s Home, highways, infrastructure, and resource development against the fastest growing and second most populous area of the state. These tactics are non-starters and embarrassingly transparent.

Not held hostage in the budget were a swimming pool and a road to nowhere in Sitka benefitting the co-chair of Senate Finance (who is a member of the budget Conference Committee), and road construction in Fairbanks. These and other items were not used to leverage votes of other legislators; yet those legislators have no problem lecturing the House Minority members about the need to vote for this budget and “do the right thing.” Real compromise is a two-way street.

Worse yet, making these changes to the budget, in the 11th hour, behind closed doors, and with no consideration to me or my House Republican colleagues, fails to build the trust we need in order to work for every Alaskan. Our hand was forced. We were obligated to demand a budget that more accurately reflects the values and needs of all Alaskans.

I have never minced words. I would not support this budget, including the effective date, without compromises that reflect the needs and priorities of all regions.

To suggest anything else is an attempt to gaslight the public; to keep them from recognizing the fundamental failure of House and Senate leadership to pass a legal and timely budget.

The effective date clause, the CBR vote and reverse sweep are the only levers available to the minority caucus members of the House to use that ensure the voices of the nearly 325,000 Alaskans they represent are heard. Last Tuesday’s vote in the State House is a glaring failure to recognize that necessity.

There is still time to come together for and fix this, but the minority must have the concerns of its constituents heard. Less vitriol, fewer accusations of citizens being greedy by asking that existing statute be followed, and less budgetary skullduggery, will solve this impasse before July 1. The House Republican Caucus is still at the table, and we are ready to work. The question is, are those in critical positions ready to come to the table and find real compromises instead of expecting capitulation?

Rep. Kevin McCabe, R-Wasilla, represents District 8 in the Alaska State House.


  1. That’s asking a bit too much of legislators who don’t even go back to their apartments and read the Bible.

    This spring Alaska just witnessed just how unstable many legislators really are: Examples are Rasmussen, Merrick, Fields, aides, friends, and most recently Von Imhof’s meltdown.

    I don’t forget some of the same representatives’ and now senators’ public disgraces and meltdowns prior to 2021. At this point Alaskans will be lucky enough to receive another $1,100 dollar dividend out of the whole caboodle!

  2. Hold the line. If the state has to shut down on July 1 we know who’s to blame. It is those who chose not to follow the law.

  3. Rep McCabe, thanks for enlightening us on the machinations of those in power. We don’t see that usually but we need to. Keep up the great work in Juneau and always stand up for those you represent.

  4. Glad to have you in the legislature, sir. You speak horse sense in a stall full of donkeys and mules. I see two things that the voters need to be aware of and should seek these mandatory, future requirements.

    1. There should be a basic test of Economics for every candidate that runs for state office. Make the test universal in composition, with the answers discernable as to where their politics lay.
    2. All candidates take a lie detector test.

  5. Well said Kevin! Present leadership in the State House and Senate fail to understand their responsibility in putting together budgets that support districts statewide, not just their own or special interest dear to themselves. Nor are they interested in developing a plan for the future of Alaska that provides individuals and families with the full opportunity Alaska promises.

    A fundamental part of our system requires us to elect individuals who can listen and reason through the complex issues they are faced with every day. Not to mention put their own biases aside long enough to understand their fellow representative and the needs of their district.

    Power can be an aphrodisiac to many and it takes character to wield it in the best interests of the many not for the selfish interests of ones self.

    As Alaskans busy raising families and pursuing our dreams we are terrible at selecting true servants of the people. Until we do a better job at that, we will progress only as far as the weakest link let’s us.

    Having worked in the legislature for 17 years, it was unusual to hear such comments from those elected to represent us. Keep up your efforts to support those who elected you.

  6. Well said!
    But there is something I am just not smart enough to figure out…I thought we sent more Republicans to the House than Democrats so why, when the plane lands in Juneau are the Republicans the minority?

  7. A true and accurate account of what happened in Juneau. The Senate Finance Committee contrived a scheme to game the House Republicans, sold it to Stutes, Edgmon and Foster, and now the scheme has failed. A shut-down now will help all Alaskans move to a fiscal solution. Shut her down!

  8. Our government is a shame when it is run by people who have no interest in serving the people.
    Thanks Representative McCabe for representing the people of this state.

  9. Kevin McCabe for Speaker! I will echo the above comments. Thanks for expressing my thoughts. Natty Princess, how DARE you accuse us of greed and entitlement when you vote for a swimming pool and a road to nowhere in Sitka when the State is broke(n) and you claim we can’t afford to follow the law. Tell you what Senator von Imhof, why don’t you fund those projects out of your own money – instead of ours? Greedy and entitled… humph… We will never let you forget your epic conceited hissy fit.

  10. So Right. It’s the law.
    Shut the whole thing down, until we get are full PFD
    Remember what you said, It’s the law.

  11. From a student of Alaska politics:

    So Senator Stedman inserted his ponies and left out all of the Mat-Su Valley needs because the governor resides there? That was their excuse in some other media. Alaskans should look to see who the power players are so they will know who to blame for the present sorry situation. The real losers are those who want a lawful PFD and a realistic budget. Sure wish more Reps and senators would write pieces like this so we all could really know what is going on. Thank you Kevin!

  12. What went wrong, you have to ask?
    421 special interests shown in Alaska’s Lobbyist Directory, bellied up to the public trough… special interests who outnumber legislators 7 to 1.
    421 special interests paying lobbyists $24M annually, about $400K per legislator, to do what looks an awful lot like buying or leasing legislators,
    public-employee unions who’ll get what they want in any budget negotiation because they effectively own and operate state government’s day-to-day functions,
    an overpriced, underperforming state education industry rated near the bottom of the national heap,
    an Alaska Municipal League with nearly half a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money safely stashed out of taxpayers’ reach,
    giving state money to a city Assembly whose members spent a year wrecking citizens’ lives and livelihoods in the name of China flu panic, but somehow managed to give away (yes, give away!) $1.15 million of Covid-19 federal relief funds to the Alaska Black Caucus,
    a state election system, apparently free of meaningful oversight resembling Arizona-type audits or Florida-type controls, set up for epic corruption using ranked-choice voting and Dominion vote-tabulation equipment,
    Republican legislators’ overwhelming fear of The Stutes, their Cowardly Lion plaintive complaints about bullying colleagues,
    …for starters.
    Kevin, if your lot’s surrounded, cut off by your baby-killing, tantrum-throwing, budget-wrecking colleagues, you can attack in any direction. To hell with their manufactured sensitivities… injure one or two (figuratively of course) you know the pack’ll turn on them, so get busy… make us proud.
    The Stutes gonna get you anyway, what’ve you got to lose?

  13. “The government will not have funds on July 1 unless legislators negotiate in good faith to reach a real compromise.”
    In case you hadn’t heard Kevin, Dunleavy’s Office of Management and Budget guy just gave a presentation to House Finance saying there is “funds” galore and the only issue is their being able to make sure the “funds” are accurately assigned to this budget that was passed. Some House members expressed how it is that Dunleavy (who says there are no funds) can come up with enough funds to fund most all of government, with the exception of motor vehicles and a couple of other offices.
    Some funds appear to be more equal than others, it seems. Heheh!

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