Speaker Stutes upset that governor asked for legal opinion on constitutional provision on budget’s effective date



House Speaker Louise Stutes is upset that Gov. Mike Dunleavy has asked the Alaska Superior Court to weigh in on whether he can ignore the state Operating Budget’s effective date.

In a press statement on Tuesday, Stutes said the governor was unnecessarily risking a government shutdown. “Speaker calls on Governor Dunleavy to stop pushing Alaska closer to a shutdown,” is the headline on Stutes’ statement.

Dunleavy’s Attorney General on Monday asked the Superior Court to settle the question about whether Dunleavy can simply ignore the effective date clause in the budget and simply start spending money. Attorney General Treg Taylor said it’s his job to defend the constitution, and this appears to be a constitutional dispute between branches of government. After Dunleavy sought advice from Chief Justice Bolger, and was denied, AG Taylor filed a complaint with Superior Court to get the ball rolling.

The situation surrounds a constitutional technicality that says the budget goes into effect 90 days after it is signed, unless the Legislature passes a revised “effective date clause,” which would be needed in order to avoid a partial government shutdown.

The House did not pass that clause, because House Republicans were dissatisfied that the Permanent Fund dividend had once again been treated as a “what’s leftover, and as little as we can get away with” appropriation, rather than what Alaskans know they are entitled to through statute, which is about $3,500 this year.

Stutes’ statement is also an indication that the House Democrat leadership misjudged the situation, because now that the matter is before the courts, the Democrats’ plan to blame the governor for a shutdown becomes more problematic. The House had put forward a Permanent Fund dividend of zero, and then bargained it up to $1,100 through conference committee with the Senate.

Also problematic is the fact that the Legislature has not yet even transmitted the budget to the governor, yet the House Speaker is blaming the governor for risking a shutdown.

Legislative Affairs Agency has advised the Legislature that the government can continue operating on July 1, but the Governor’s Office is taking a more originalist approach to the Alaska Constitution, referring to what the framers intended when they put in the 90-day clause, rather than recent legal writings that propose looser interpretations.

The governor called the Legislature back into a second special session that starts on Wednesday, when the Legislature can remedy the situation by taking the existing budget, which is largely agreed to by both sides, and putting it inside a bill that has not yet passed — the forward funding for education bill, for example (HB 169), that is in House Finance. If the House majority treats the minority with consideration and includes a Permanent Fund dividend that most Republicans can stomach voting for, the House could transmit that bill to the Senate this week and they could all go home.

Alternately, Dunleavy has said he will present the Legislature with a new budget when they gather. His will likely include what’s known as the “50-50 PFD,” which is the amount that would be calculated under SJR 6, his bill to put the entire PFD calculation into the Alaska Constitution through a vote of the people — up or down.

“The fact that the governor is reaching out to the chief justice of the Supreme Court on a pending legal matter is inappropriate and troubling. Alaska just got through one of the toughest years in our history, and the governor should stop using our limited time and money on a lawsuit that will drive us one step closer to a state-imposed shutdown,” Stutes said.

On social media, however, the constituents of far-left members of her majority are not amused. Heavy criticism is being lobbed at Rep. Zack Fields and others for wasting 153 days so far this year and not producing a budget.

The public, which has been shut from the Alaska Capitol for well over a year, is using Facebook to tell lawmakers what is on their minds, and the Democrats are being wrecked by their constituents.

“Perhaps he’s [Dunleavy] pushing for the full PFD disbursement for Alaska’s citizens,” wrote one citizen to Fields about the Dunleavy PFD plan. “Perhaps less of the CBR should go to run state government (as designed – it’s not a bailout for fiscal irresponsibility!) 40% has NOT been cut in the last 6 years = shell game. Be honest and maybe people wouldn’t be so touchy about the subject.”

“It is reprehensible that you are trying to steal the pfd from every man, woman and child including disabled, homeless, senior citizen, victims of abuse and people with terminal illness, all to pay for your ‘programs’ that fail to help the people. There’s words for that and ‘politician’ is no excuse,” wrote another to Fields.

“Grow Up Rep. Fields, get your job done. Quit laying it off on others,” commented another, in a series of remarks that reflected the sentiment against Fields, in his attempt to shift blame to the governor.

Fields has had a tough public relations year, after having been part of a beer-and-leg-wrestling party after hours in the Capitol complex, and has been criticized for his cozy relationships with Republican turncoat Rep. Kelly Merrick and Rep. Sara Rasmussen. His past behavior puts him on shaky ground for criticizing the governor, when his own caucus has not been able to produce a legal budget.

Read Beer, pong, leg-wrestling, and the workings of government on the ‘floor’


  1. “Speaker calls on Governor Dunleavy to stop pushing Alaska closer to a shutdown,” how about “The legislature does not do their job, again”.

  2. Speaker Stutes has been hanging around the liberal socialists too long. Now she’s taking their tact of telling lies with the expectation that the media will support her lies.
    Madam Speaker, do you really think that we the people believe that tripe, when the budget hasn’t even been transmitted to the Governor?

    And what’s with the Chief Justice refusing to consider the Governor’s request? Yeah, those black robed members if that junta aren’t partisan, are they?

  3. Legislators go to a remote location, create the risk of a government shutdown (again), the smallest PFD (in today’s dollars), pay themselves per diem (for their hard work) and blame everyone but themselves.

    Prediction: Next year will be a repeat.

  4. Poor baby. Maybe if they had done their job this wouldn’t be an issue.

    I want the government shut down/. I want the pampered elite to feel what we’ve been feeling.

  5. Been in session since early in the year and then they wait until a special session to pass a budget and then don’t do their job of passing an effective date, NO EXCUSE. Maybe you should have passed the budget first with real 40% cuts not 40% cuts to the largest budget passed in state history by Walker and claim to have cut the budget. Also to the Republicans that have helped this monstrosity of incompetency Sara Rasmussen and Kelly Merrick your days are numbered your constituents should Tar and Feather you as the Turncoat you are. Maybe we should bring back the Public Square days of shaming you to teach you a lesson.

  6. Indeed, she looks upset! Maybe(?), it’s nothing more than an upset tummy? If so, I recommend Pepto-Bismol as it’s a proven cure.

  7. @BOSK 2nd! Without consequences there’s no accountability. This pile of sidewalk sign wavers is defective and should either be shown the door or held responsible for their irresponsible lack of tangible action.
    Here’s the deal: If you’re not capable of making responsible decisions surrounding the public seek employment elsewhere.

  8. There’s probably thousands of competent, honest Alaskans, who would be glad to volunteer and do all of the jobs to keep the state running, for free. Do like Reagan did with the air traffic controllers, and show the entitled state employees that they’re not irreplaceable. Show the unions especially that they don’t own Alaska.
    Dunleavy: Remember the story of Job. What he feared the most, came upon him. What fear are you staring at?

  9. Without sizeable budget cuts of the real and honest kind we are going to suffer through this bad movie time after time. The big spending faction and its lobbyists will push legislators every day to keep spending, hiding the spending from us, and tell us that spending has actually been cut. Even lobbyists who have oil patch clients also have clients who demand more and more spending, so no one in Juneau supports reducing spending except the House Republican Minority, and they’ve been both silenced and castrated. The pro-Alaska and pro-PFD faction will yell but with people like Stutes and Merrick in power they will get no place. The common sense fiscal hacks will plead with legislators to actually bring spending in line with 500,000 barrels a day but so long as there is savings to spend (right now disguised as PF earnings) government will continue to overwhelm the private sector. Maybe the Governor will regain the courage he had when he actually tried to cut the budget. Liberals hope that rank choice voting will give the House a huge liberal majority. The Senate has two Republican factions, and the faction in power has no appetite for reducing spending. Are you as tired of this movie as I am? Do these elected people think we actually believe what they tell us?

  10. Stutes is the poster Rino for what’s wrong with the republican party. We can’t trust their word and ethics, we know the democrats don’t have any.

  11. The dragon lady with the large rhinoceros horn is upset? From what I’ve read, she’s always upset – and if she smiled, the fire would be frightening. Rob B., when you have that much fire, and you eat coal, you belch smoke… I would suggest Louise is trying to promote her own future while grasping at anything to hurt the Tall Man. BTW, that lawsuit should have some personal responsibility for Stutes attached to it – stoke that fire with gasoline, maybe she’ll burn herself out. A responsible budget is not that hard to produce – even one paying a full PFD, but bust the public employee unions we must do.

  12. If the caucus wrangling had been resolved in the first few days of this past session and concluded in the allotted time wouldn’t the budget timeline fit nicely with July 1st?

  13. The only reason for Bolger to deny advice on this issue is because the language is so extraordinarily clear.

    • I see you know little about how the courts work, just as you know nothing about how clear this language is.
      And if it was so extraordinarily clear, why was Dunleavy asking for his advice? You thinking Dunleavy was wanting to be pals with Bolger? Heheh!

  14. Until we get a full PFD, I say veto the whole budget.

    Make them stay in Juneau until they fund a Full PFD
    Remember it’s the law. Wait, they are lawmakers, who get to break the law.

  15. Fields has the mentality of a junior high kid who was elected to the student council. It’s hard to understand how Merrick and Rasmussen can carry on with that wierdo. Haven’t the constituents in that district had enough?

  16. I used to think that these people who cannot pass a budget, but who can vote to pay themselves vast sums of per diem money, while voting to steal your PFD, were utterly lacking in self awareness.
    But now I realize that they do understand the horrible optics of their antics, and just do not care.
    They are laughing and sneering at us as they give a giant middle finger to every single man, woman, and child in Alaska….

  17. Here’s what our state constitution says: “Laws passed by the legislature become effective ninety days after enactment. The legislature may, by concurrence of two-thirds of the membership of each house, provide for another effective date.”
    Neither the Alaska Supreme Court nor the Alaska Superior Court has the constitutional authority to tell the state government to simply ignore the requirements clearly declared in the constitution.
    Another way of thinking about that is that if a court can simply declare a constitutional requirement null and void then they could declare any constitutional requirement null and void and your rights become negotiable.

  18. Time to end collective bargaining for government employees.
    We’ve been giving away our royalties to those crooks far too long.
    We get a mere pittance and they receive over market wages, platinum benefits, retirement.

    Then we subsidize “subsistence’ living in the bush. Paying for gasoline, diesel, etc etc etc

    A regular little socialist paradise, that’s all Alaska is.

  19. She accepted a position she was and is qualified for. Her ego was fed in getting it …maybe in hopes that it would put more cred to run for the Senate… All that happened is it clearly exploded how incapable she is.

    She was played is being put in that position. Ego without qualities to perform makes for a car wreak… One we don’t need and we the citizens were harmed.
    Time for her to retire from elected office. Many around her need to face the mirror and accept who they are and understand representing people is not in their nature.

  20. News flash: They hate you. Stutes is trying to deflect onto the governor, but we are here for one simple reason: They hate you. Understand this, and most of what they do makes a lot more sense.

  21. Hey, Speaker Stutes.
    The budget is Job 1!
    Do it or resign.
    On second thought, just resign and take a bunch of your compatriots with you.
    What a bunch of abject failures.

  22. No creativity at the top. Because the PFD is our share of our minerals and greedy humans can’t think surrounded by their filthy indulgence, why not put it on the people it is a payout of 80 b. take it out of the politics, bankers, and the good old boy net. I guarantee the conservatives who were against it took it when it first paid out. And human nature hasn’t changed they want a payout as much as a possible moderate if we have any still alive.

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