Sen. Mike Shower, just one week into his term in the Alaska Senate, is following in the steps of his predecessor Mike Dunleavy, and has decided not to join the Republican-led caucus.
His concerns and his decision involves budgeting issues and the growing size of the State budget. Caucus members stick together on the budget. Without being a caucus member, he will likely have just one staff person assigned to him and will not be included in important caucus meetings.
“As the budget stands today, and with a governor and House majority wanting increased spending, it’s likely there’ll be a budget increase more than our district would support at the end of the process,” he said on Facebook today.
“All members of a majority caucus must agree to vote for the budget no matter its size. For this reason, I’m unable to commit to be a member of the Senate Majority caucus at this time. I believe we need additional cuts, not an increase in government spending. I appreciate the Senate Majority members who have been very gracious and welcoming. However, I need to focus on the priorities of District E.”
The governor’s proposed operating budget is $4.7 billion, larger than what he proposed last year and the same budget he signed off on at the end of last year’s budget wrangling.
But with more than $200 million in supplemental requests, Gov. Bill Walker’s budget actually is pushed to nearly $5 billion in this fiscal year.
Shower, who was chosen by Walker to fill out the term of gubernatorial candidate Dunleavy, is concerned that the House Democrats and the governor will overpower the Republican Senate and force spending even higher, like they did last year. Another Valley Senator, Shelley Hughes, also stepped out of the caucus last year and remains out because she can’t support a growing budget during a time when revenues are not meeting expenditures.