WHAT REP. SPOHNHOLZ SAID
Rep. Ivy Spohnholz would have you believe that the 2020 capital budget failed because House Republican minority members voted against it. And because of that, drug addicts are going untreated. Here’s her take:
Spohnholz tells a partial truth: House Republican Minority members said no to breaking into the Constitutional Budget Reserve for a capital budget they had no time to discuss.
The House Majority needed those votes, but had treated Republican Minority members so poorly over the winter, they could not muster support to bust into the CBR, which has just $1.77 billion.
But for Spohnholz, it’s all about addiction treatment, specifically $10 million in matching grants for the construction of new addiction treatment centers statewide.
In the end, politics is about human interaction, and successful politicians, such as President Ronald Reagan, achieved their goals by treating others well.
The failure of the House Majority to produce a capital budget could be, in part, because of how Spohnholz and her majority members behaved over these many months. They took 30 days to organize their majority, peeling off Republicans to join them. Republicans such as Rep. Tammie Wilson, of North Pole, who negotiated a seat for herself at the table in the majority led by Democrat Bryce Edgmon, who agreed to reregister as an Undeclared, giving Republicans cover as they came over.
WHAT REP. WILSON SAID
Rep. Tammie Wilson of North Pole, who co-chairs House Finance, was in charge of getting the capital budget over the finish line. She is on the record saying she joined the Majority to help Gov. Michael Dunleavy advance his goals.
Gov. Dunleavy presented a fully funded capital budget in mid-February. But Wilson sat on it until Day 147. That’s 121 days of regular session and 26 days of the 30-day special session that was called to get the capital budget done, as well as legislation to fund the Permanent Fund dividend.
Then, with just three days before the end of the first Special Session, Wilson introduced it into the Finance Committee with some striking changes that none of the members had ever seen. She never consulted with Senate Finance about her changes — they were as surprised as anyone.
What Wilson did was in the weeds for most Alaskans, but those political insiders were scratching their heads: Was Wilson trying to kill the capital budget? Was this a poison pill?
Wilson funded the fiscal note on the criminal justice reform package with Power Cost Equalization Fund monies, which were supposed to be spent to help lower the cost of power in rural Alaska. Her capital budget uses that money to reopen the Palmer Correctional Center.
Wilson funded a large portion of the capital budget with the Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund, which requires a three-quarters vote — a vote that she was not able to coax out of a Republican minority caucus that she had deeply offended, bullied, and berated over the months since she had joined the Democrat-led majority.
Was Wilson doing what she said she would do, which was to help the governor with his agenda? The jury is still out, but the Republican Minority seems to think not.
The Wilson version of the capital budget was sprung on House Finance, rushed through with little discussion allowed, and hit the House Floor at lightning speed.
It passed with the votes of the Democrat-led Majority, but the funding mechanism — the Constitutional Budget Reserve, did not pass. House Republicans were not in the mood to help Wilson with the earmarks she had slid into the capital budget in place of projects the governor had requested for Senate District E — the Mat-Su.
And so, there they ended, and gaveled out without a capital budget.
WHAT SPEAKER EDGMON SAID
According to Speaker Edgmon, the Republicans are hamstringing the private sector at the height of the construction season. But budget experts know that the capital budget, in the main, is not for this summer, but next summer — it is needed this summer only to secure the billions in federal matching money for projects in the pipeline. Is Edgmon lying or does he just not know?
The governor can add this undone task of the capital budget to the next special session, once the Legislature funds the Permanent Fund dividend. That session convenes July 8 in Wasilla.
The capital budget doesn’t really get to be a problem until the end of July. Those who say otherwise are looking for a political angle.
The capital budget has, in fact, been passed by the House and Senate. What hasn’t been passed is a mechanism to fund it. And yet, it has been transmitted to the governor for his signature. He will have to veto it, because he cannot add money back to a bill. What happened is the House put forth a spending plan that it could not fund.
Who bears the blame for this “no capital budget”? Spohnholz, Edgmon, and Wilson say it is 15 Republicans.
The governor did his work. The Senate did its work. The House Democrat-led Majority? Rep. Tammie Wilson? Do they bear responsibility? Add your thoughts in the comment section.