Capitol Live: House leadership talks budget process

Capitol Live: House leadership talks budget process

Live updates from inside the Capitol.

2:05 p.m.

More statistics about the House Finance Committee’s state tour. This “by the numbers” information can be found on the Alaska House Majority website:

• 1,000. That’s how many people provided feedback during community meetings in Anchorage, Bethel, Fairbanks, Kenai, Ketchikan, Juneau, Mat-Su, and Sitka.

• 5-to-1. Of the people who provided input on the budget, 990 voiced opposition to the governor’s drastic cuts. 202 supported the governor’s plan, leaving a 5-to-1 margin of opposition.

• 839. The leading topic of discussion statewide was K-12 education. Overall, 839 voiced opposition to Governor Dunleavy’s proposed cuts to school funding.

• 611. Another common refrain was a push for a sustainable Permanent Fund Dividend, rather than the governor’s proposal to double the PFD. 611 spoke to their desire for balance between the size of the PFD and the state’s ability to provide critical services Alaskans rely on. 206 oppose reducing the dividend.

• 300+. More than 300 people spoke out in favor of preserving funding for Medicaid, the University, and Alaska Marine Highway System.

• 894. Nearly 900 people spoke in favor of the State of Alaska taking a step to diversify revenue.

— Alex McCarthy

11:20 a.m.

Begich ends with another zinger.

“If you like this budget, you can’t love Alaska,” he says.

That wraps this press conference up. Essentially, it was a roast of Dunleavy. Not sure how much we learned in the past 20 minutes.

— Alex McCarthy

11:17 a.m.

Jeff Turner from the governor’s office is here at the press conference. He’s taking notes, specifically when the senators call out the governor. For example, when Begich says the governor “has his head in the sand,” Turner starts writing quickly.

— Alex McCarthy

11:11 a.m.

Kawasaki says these broad cuts to state spending would be a disservice to the state.

“Government isn’t everything to everybody, but it should be something to some people,” he says.

— Alex McCarthy

11:06 a.m.

If I had a nickel for every time the senators here say “unprecedented,” I’d be able to buy lunch. Sens. Begich and Scott Kawasaki in particular say they’re disgusted by the governor’s recent actions.

— Alex McCarthy

11:02 a.m.

Now Senate Democrats are holding a press conference in response to Dunleavy’s recent actions, which Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich repeatedly calls “unprecedented.” Specifically, Begich calls out the governor’s decision not to appoint a judge to an open position and the governor’s closed-door meetings through the state about the budget.

“These unprecedented actions by the governor continue to erode the public’s trust in our institutions,” Begich says.

— Alex McCarthy

9 a.m.

Foster, from Nome, is asked about the Nome resident who was arrested yesterday after protesting the governor at the Nome airport. Foster says if he were the governor, he would make some kind of public statement.

“I would probably say, let’s not prosecute the situation,” Foster says. “There was no violence. It appears this person has no record.”

— Alex McCarthy

8:49 a.m.

Rep. Tammie Wilson mentioned earlier that if there were ever a time for a two-year budget, this would be it. I asked for more about that, and she said it wouldn’t necessarily be a process where the Legislature plans out two budgets at once. It would be a kind of situation where they would basically tell services that are going to be cut — the university system, nonprofits, etc. — that the state won’t cut their funding too severely this year, but they’ll need to develop a plan for next year.

“Although we won’t put a second budget together, I think what you’ll see is the talk will go this way on, ‘Here’s these funds, but next year, expect this,’” Wilson says.

— Alex McCarthy

8:35 a.m.

Rep. Neal Foster says they’ve heard from nearly 1,800 people around the state either in House Finance or in the public meetings, and by a margin of 5-to-1, people asked legislators not to let the deep cuts proposed in the budget go through.

— Alex McCarthy

8:30 a.m.

Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon is getting this first press conference of the day started. He starts out talking about the House’s tour around the state getting thoughts from the public on the budget.

“We heard strong impassioned feedback from members of the general public who are more engaged than they perhaps have been ever,” Edgmon says.

— Alex McCarthy

8:20 a.m.

As we get ready to start another busy day at the Capitol, we’re taking a look at a new resource from Senate Democrats. On their website, the senators have put up an easily navigable guide to the governor’s budget and how it affects different regions of the state. Obviously, it’s a little slanted as it’s put out by Democrats about a Republican governor’s proposal, but it still has some good statistics and information that could be a good resource for people as they try to make sense of the budget conversations.

You can go to that page here.

House and Senate Democrats are speaking to the press this morning about their thoughts on the House Finance Committee’s public meetings around the state and about Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s meetings around the state.

— Alex McCarthy

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