Walk out: House Education budget prompts GOP protest - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, October 27, 2021
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Walk out: House Education budget prompts GOP protest

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THREE REPUBLICANS VOTE WITH THEIR FEET ON INCREASING BUDGET

On Monday morning, the House Finance subcommittee on Education started to erase, line by line, the Gov. Dunleavy education budget from discussion, and put in its place the FY 2019 budget for education, which would form the basis for the discussion and amendments for the FY 2020 budget.

But the meeting didn’t get very far before the three Republican members of the subcommittee objected to the process and eventually all three of them walked out of committee to bring attention to what they said was a committee that was changing its rules, with no transparency.

Essentially, Reps. DeLena Johnson, Josh Revak and Ben Carpenter were sending a message to Alaskans and the rest of the Legislature that it was likely that all of the Finance subcommittees were using the upside-down budgeting method that would force minority members to actually vote against the governor’s budget.

The method uses the 2019 as the base, and subcommittee members then vote on each line of Dunleavy’s budget. If the Dunleavy line fails, then the base budget moves ahead.

The three minority members were told by committee Chairman Daniel Ortiz of Ketchikan that they could raise their issues as amendments on Wednesday. Monday’s votes were to be on “action items.”

That didn’t set well with Rep. DeLena Johnson, who asked Ortiz to clarify what was actually going on and why all of these “action items” were being done outside of the amendment process, when it was clear that they were amendments.

Rep. DeLena Johnson

“The committee brought forward 34 budget amendments this morning – all of which increased government spending – and wouldn’t allow for debate on any of them,” said Johnson later. She was the one who led the objections that characterized the entire meeting, most of which was done in an undeclared at-ease, with the microphones turned off.

Johnson protested the “action item” method of amending the budget and asked Committee Chair Daniel Ortiz to clarify the process because it was clear that the budget in front of them was not the governor’s budget.

Ortiz said that he too had been confused.

Rep. Daniel Ortiz

“To be perfectly honest with you — this is all off the record — to tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure how we were going to work through this process. We were trying to get some instruction through the co-chairs of Finance as to exactly how we were going to deal with this because there was a question of — we’re starting with the FY adjusted base budget, but we still were required to address the governor’s suggested numbers in the budget,” he explained.

Ortiz had just admitted that the committee was dealing with two budgets — last year’s as a base, and the governor’s budget.

“This isn’t how the committee process is supposed to work and it is not the process that was agreed to beforehand. I’m not going to be a rubber stamp for an agenda that clearly aims to take more money out of the pockets of hardworking Alaskans without telling them,” Johnson said in a statement later.

Rep. Josh Revak was the first to vote with his feet, even as Rep. Ben Carpenter continued to argue against the predetermined outcome of the education budget.

“It has become clear after the first few weeks of the budget process that the Democrat-led House Majority intends to suppress debate with those who disagree and create a platform for those who agree with their agendas,” Revak said.  “Regardless of whether you’re represented by a member of the minority or the majority, every Alaskan deserves to have a voice in this process.”

That’s true, but the House is now being run by Democrats, and they’ll produce a Democrat budget.

“As evidenced by this morning’s meeting, the House leadership is not prepared to have an honest conversation about the size, scope, or role of government,” Carpenter said in a press release. “We’re more than happy to identify compromises to find the best solutions for Alaskans, but we can’t have productive conversations if we’re deliberately hiding the fact that we have no way to pay for these 34 proposed budget increases, other than to tax the people or raid the PFD.”

Carpenter was referring to the fact that the Democrat majority is increasing the budget without saying where the money will come from.

Johnson stayed a few more minutes after Carpenter had finally given up and walked out. The exchange among the committee had mainly taken place with the microphone off, but Johnson asked that the committee be back on the record so she could state why she was leaving.

“Given the change to the way we’re doing business here today, I feel like this is a heavy-handed action by the majority, I think the minority voice is not being heard. I think my constituents and the people who elected me deserve better. And as such I will not be participating today.”

With that, she picked up her notebook and left, leaving five Democrats on the subcommittee to vote on the Education budget “action items.”

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Representatives DeLena Johnson, Josh Revak and Ben Carpenter should be applauded! Doing official government business with the microphones turned off is against the law. Representative Ortiz knew going in that this was subversion but kept at it anyways.

  • It’s no wonder the dims want to be “off record” while they pull their shenanigans. The “unusual” methods used by dims are not in the best interest of anyone except their cronies and themselves. The back door methods used by them would be illegal if performed by “commoners”. The biggest thing they’re forgetting is that the “commoners” can put them in office or VOTE THEM OUT!! Too bad Alaskans have to wait for another election. Just remember them and their liberal crap when it’s time to vote again. I know I will.

  • Thank you voting with your feet for the people of Alaska. We can not keep funding everything for everyone. Something has to give.

  • Corruption at its finest

  • There is only one reason why this nefarious activity is happening in the house, and only one reason why the Republicans are the house minority: Kenai “Republican” Gary Knopp.

    Please remember that when you vote next time, District 31!

  • The Demonrats are all the same full of self centered crap and lies hide the facts turn off the mics!!!!

  • Dunleavy’s budget is worthless anyway. Good thing these guys don’t want to completely burn the state to the ground like the rest of Republicans across the country are more than happy to do.

    The minority could have asked to be on the record at any time, but only chose the last minute to do so. They walked out without putting any official protest on-record, and didn’t stay to voice their opinion during process. Instead of actually voicing their concerns like adults – they decided to throw a crybaby tantrum typical of the Cheetolini playbook and run away from the problem instead of confonting it. Next they will want a Nobel Prize for not doing anything in protest.

    Glad the people in charge of funding education and infrastructure this year aren’t completely mentally disabled.

    • Educated, the liberals on the committee have now bought the nice-to-haves at the cost of the “needs”. That is like the ASD firing teachers and growing the custodial staff and administrative staff. Did you follow the committee hearings and did you have the documents they were discussing?

      • Public education is not a “nice to have”. It says a lot about you that you believe this to be true. Decent education costs money, and every state that does not have decent education is struggling financially. Amazing how that works.

        The “nice to have” you are referring to are the tax breaks, subsidies, and loose laws that the conservatives keep granting to the multi-million dollar (foreign owned and controlled) companies they allow to rape and pillage our natural resources all willy-nilly without contributing meaningfully to the citizens beyond the PFD. If any of your glorious overlords would have the balls to take it out of their pockets as the price of doing business, instead of the people who don’t have it at the bottom – we wouldn’t be trying to decide how best to help the public by figuring out which limbs we can do without to feed the rest of us, while the powers that be place bets as we fight over scraps.

        • I’m struggling with the verbiage “decent education costs money”. Fascinating. How much money is pumped into public education? $ lots $. How decent is the education? According to the stats, not so decent. How much money does the state have to funnel to this budget item before the education become “decent”? Where is the sweet spot? Money=decent is a false narrative.

          • Here is a link that shows a strong correlation between money spent and a school’s ability to provide quality funding.

            https://www.the74million.org/the-states-that-spend-the-most-and-least-on-education-and-how-their-students-perform-compared-to-their-neighbors/

            Funny story, of all the places I have ever lived that spent a lot on schooling, Alaska is the only place that consistently jeopardizes teacher’s job security near the end of the school year, has a rape problem in smaller populations, and consistently devalues higher education over corporate interest. I wonder if there is a reason that Alaska spends so much to achieve so little – and the only answer to money is to steal from the public to pay the billionaires… /sarcasm

            Btw, comment back all you want. I won’t be checking back to hear what other inane excuses you have to try and take from the kids to line the oil pockets, you know, because those poor, indigent oil companies are so down on their luck. This is completely the fault of voting corporate stooges into office again and again and again instead of experts and educated people who know that humanity isn’t a business and people shouldn’t be profit. Maybe thoughts and prayers can change something, as the ice caps melt and oceans turn to acid, and we are forced to be mole people. Good luck with that.

        • Educated, you need to watch the committee hearing. I said that they are buying the “nice-to-haves” instead of funding classroom teachers. You inferred the wrong message but the message you wanted to hear.

    • Problem is they are indeed mentally disabled. They think everyone owes them a living through taxes and if they can’t get new taxes imposed, then raid the people’s Permanent Fund!

  • I watched most all of this House Ed Cmte meeting and it was unbearable. A citizen could not follow the proceedings because none of the documents were posted on Basis, the state legislature website. Probably intentional to keep the public in the dark. This is the strategy we will see as the House goes “forward”. We can thank Rep Knopp of Kenai for this broken, govt-growing “process”. Reminds one of how the Politburo would do things.

  • Stay with the Govenor’s budget plan. No alterations!

  • I thought there was already a FY20 education budget that was passed last session that will be the education budget unless the legislators decide to change it. Perhaps that is there starting point.

  • Ortiz muted Carpenter, so the quotes are only known because Suzanne was there to report. Total denial of open meeting rules. Transparency? Hell with that! The Democrat-Socialist will block all transparency and debate!
    I have tweeted the Gov and so long as this continues, to veto the entire budget, call in a special session and put the full blame on the Democrat-Socialists for these political stunts!

  • Here is an idea I’m floating (wrote the Governor as well) SB 50 Click Bishop to have a education head tax. That is as far as we agree. What I propose is a head tax for every kid in public school with their parents taxed. That includes cost of building, repair, etc.
    Those whom do not have kids in public schools, i.e. singles married no kids, seniors no kids in school and those whom send their kids to private schools or home school, NO TAX!
    Click wants a $30 head tax of all Alaskans and non-residents in the state for buildings, repair, etc. NOT KNOW BUT HELL NO!
    Let’s get this idea going and see whom in the Democrat-Socialist Party votes NO! 🙂

  • Well who agreed to give the minority Democrats the majority power in the first place? The whole House is a sham and the worst kind of Kabuki Theatre. As far as I’m concerned they have lost the consent to govern.

  • This is pure Clown Car government brought to you by Rep. Gary Knopp, Head Clown Maestro and erstwhile Republican.

  • I sure hope the three walkouts did some other productive work to earn their paychecks for the day.

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