On reconsideration, Sen. Lyman Hoffman casts a ‘no’ vote on unvetted, spendthrift Senate pension bill

Sen. Cathy Giessel gets emotional on the Senate floor about the state pension bill she sponsors, as Senate Finance Co-chairs Bert Stedman and Lyman Hoffman, who oppose the bill, listen on Friday during the Senate floor session.

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: Bjorkman, Dunbar, Giessel, Gray-Jackson, Kawasaki, Kiehl,
Merrick, Olson, Stevens, Tobin, Wielechowski

Nays: Hoffman, Hughes, Kaufman, Myers, Shower, Stedman, Wilson

Excused: Bishop, Claman


  1. Unaccountable and Unaffordable espcially by normal financial metrics. With the pie-in-the-ski metrics in the deep-fake fiscal note, allegedly authored by Walkers former tax director, this bill makes Bernie Madoff and the smartest guys in the room at Enron look like honest brokers. I intend to write my rep and tell her that the house needs to KILL and BURY SB88 once and for all.

  2. Over 10 billion in pension liabilities we still owe on the past defined benefit plan, and now these legislators who voted yes want to take us back to a defined benefit system again? I heard some of the comments on the debate and its clear this will probably only add to the state’s debt in the future, in other words our kids will be paying the bill. Young people want a defined contribution plan that pays enough to make it attractive, the defined benefits is not the right answer for today’s environment and state employees can take a DC plan with them at any time they aren’t stuck here. Why does the Alaska legislature always have to do the wrong thing?

  3. Just you all wait till the effect of this becomes reality. Be interesting to watch the crabs run for the rock hiding places. It will be the remaining funds related to the PFD that will be sacrificed. Even then, at the rate of suggested inflationary growth of the need, will not suffice within a short number of years, to meet the guarantee defined pensions will create.
    I post this response for the pure pleasure of reserving the “I Told You So” privilege I know I will have opportunity to state.
    “You can’t have a circus without clowns”

    • Well, I thought that 3 or 4 years ago, the plan was to incrementally take away the PFD 1/4 at a time until we were no longer paid a pfd. The plan looks to be on schedule.

  4. They are trying everything to give the PFD to the select class of Alaskans.
    We are being stole from and lied to from our politicians as usual.

  5. Senator Giessel sold her soul, just like Faust, to organized labor to get elected. Now, the Senator faces one of the many consequences of her deal with the devil. Was it worth it Cathy?

  6. Think about law enforcement, it will catch up to us. We’re a five and out state. Huge signing bonuses are required to get people to even apply. Now applicants can get about $20K, we will spend millions on training, millions on matching Tier 4 funds, then they leave after 5 years. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    • You make a good point that continues to be ignored. Also, pretty funny to see how “back the blue” conservatives are until it comes to their precious handout PFD. At least liberals are honest about their lack of support for our law enforcement.

    • So if you, and these politicians, are so worried about state trooper retention, why are they not working on a bill that addresses ONLY that particular situation, and not ALL state workers in general?

      Disingenuous much?

  7. OOOh! Guess what, money talks and sometimes screams. Giessel is NOT a Republican and has never been. HELLO, how many others are in there, with that claim and are lying? Yeah, quite a few. Does the REAL Republican Party have the spine to get rid of them this year? Eh.

  8. Grampa was a strong union man and walked picket-lines and went on strikes. Mom’s side of the family were all Democrats. Her actions are all about promoting unions and growing the government. That’s why she hates Dunleavy and hates the PFD. RINO.

  9. Talk about being self-unaware. In three years, Southcentral AK will run out of natural gas to heat our homes and generate electricity – and her big issue is to reinstate pricey pensions that we already determined we could not afford? This is the best she can do? Stunning lack of leadership. At least she’s looking out for number one and her union bankrollers.


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