Senate Bill 88, the public employee union-backed bill to restore defined pensions to all state and local government workers in Alaska, was on the Senate floor for a reconsideration vote on Friday.
Sen. Lyman Hoffman, who co-chairs the Senate Finance Committee, flipped his vote to a no.
The measure still passed, but Hoffman’s vote means that both chairs of Senate Finance oppose the bill, which left their committee with no actuarial fiscal note, and passed the Senate without the fiscal note. It has been sent to the House for consideration.
“That is incredibly significant. We now have two Finance co-chairs opposed to SB 88. A rural Democrat does not believe it is fiscally responsible to reinstate pensions for 37,000 public employees (but several Senate Republicans do,” said one Capitol insider. “It is significant too because it signals to rural Democrats in the House that SB88 is not the best thing since sliced bread.”
Sen. Cathy Giessel, who is the lead sponsor of the bill, was choking up during her “special order” floor speech on Friday, while she talked about public employees. Her husband works for the Department of Transportation and makes between $100,000 and $200,000 a year, according to her financial reports.
She was said to have walked out of a leadership meeting in Senate President’s office crying, perhaps realizing that the prospects for her unvetted bill are weak in the House. Screenshots of her campaign contributions have been circulating on Facebook, showing heavy union support for the Republican who is now caucusing with the Democrats.
The final vote on SB 88 was:
YEAS: 11 NAYS: 7 EXCUSED: 2 ABSENT: 0
Yeas: Bjorkman, Dunbar, Giessel, Gray-Jackson, Kawasaki, Kiehl,
Merrick, Olson, Stevens, Tobin, Wielechowski
Nays: Hoffman, Hughes, Kaufman, Myers, Shower, Stedman, Wilson
Excused: Bishop, Claman