JUNEAU — The brand new session of the Alaska Legislature convenes Tuesday, and a few state legislators try to construct assist for a brand new vote to override some or all of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s controversial price range vetoes from final yr. Such a vote must happen within the first 5 days of session, and supporters of the Alaska Marine Freeway System are main the cost.
“I’d like to see a veto override on the Alaska Marine Freeway System. 5 million isn’t a lot, however it might assist,” stated Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, referring to an merchandise vetoed final yr.
Forty-five votes are wanted to override a price range veto, and lawmakers failed to achieve that mark final yr. Stutes stated it’s unlikely that issues have modified, however she wish to attempt.
Lawmakers within the Home and Senate majority and minority caucuses are scheduled to carry closed-door organizational conferences starting this weekend and persevering with via the beginning of the session.
The potential of an override will probably be among the many matters, however Home Majority Chief Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, stated he thinks a vote is unlikely.
“I simply don’t assume it’ll occur,” he stated.
“I simply assume everybody’s going to be specializing in the upcoming price range, not the one which’s handed,” he stated.
Final yr, the Alaska Legislature lower about $190 million from the state working price range, then Dunleavy vetoed one other $400 million. Lawmakers pushed again, and the governor reversed himself on about half his vetoes. In keeping with ultimate figures, the share of the price range funded by taxes and investments was down about $390 million when work ended for the yr.
Forty-five votes are wanted within the 60-member Legislature to override a governor’s price range veto, and lawmakers by no means mustered sufficient assist final yr to override any of the governor’s selections. Many lawmakers had been in Wasilla, not Juneau, and by no means formally forged a vote for or towards the governor’s determination. Some lawmakers stated they’re concerned with forcing an override vote to place all legislators on the official report.
Stutes has targeted on the override of a veto masking $5 million in funding for the Alaska Marine Freeway system, and different coastal lawmakers have joined her push. Rep. Harriet Drummond, D-Anchorage, voiced her assist on social media as nicely.
Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, stated anybody asking for an override wants to remember the state’s total fiscal place. The governor’s proposed price range for subsequent fiscal yr, as proposed, features a $1.5 billion deficit that might be lined by financial savings.
“With the controversy over tips on how to fill the large fiscal hole for FY2021, do we actually wish to enhance the quantity we have to scrape collectively by additionally elevating what’s wanted to cowl FY2020′s price range?” she requested.
Stutes’ request is restricted, but when one merchandise comes up for a vote, lawmakers will push for others as nicely, she stated. Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, has urged overriding the governor’s veto of behavioral healthcare funding, for instance.
“It wouldn’t be only one or two issues. Everybody would need their explicit need overridden,” Stutes stated.
The Kodiak lawmaker isn’t pinning her hopes solely on a veto override. Every year, the Legislature writes a supplemental price range to repair errors from the prior yr, including funding to areas that want it. This spring, the Legislature and governor’s workplace are already planning so as to add cash for final yr’s wildfire season and to cowl Medicaid bills.
Ferry funding might additionally make an look within the supplemental price range, and Stutes is ready to make her case. She’s already scheduled a gathering of the Home Transportation Committee for the primary day of session, and on its agenda is a sequence of displays concerning the significance of the ferry system to native communities.