Protesters from the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific were scheduled to gather today at noon in front of the Capitol to protest proposed budget cuts to the state ferry system, but the rally has been postponed.
According to Trina Arnold, regional director for union’s Juneau branch, the protest was rescheduled for a date not yet set.
The Alaska Marine Highway System was already slated for budget cuts in Dunleavy’s proposed state budget. The winter schedule has been pruned considerably, leading to concerns from residents and members of the legislature.
— Michael S. Lockett
There is a possibility that there could be a vote to rescind this vote, which would require only 21 votes, but that would return the House to the original problem of needing 30 votes. If the House did rescind and vote again, they would not be able to do so again.
House stands at ease to the call of the chair. With no funding for HB 2002, the Legislature remains in session with no date yet set for another vote. The Legislature could call another vote, but without 30 yeas to take funds from the CBR, significant gaps in funding remain.
HB 2002 passed but funding from the CBR failed. The sweep has not been reversed.
Constitutional Budget Reserve vote fails, 29-7.
HB 2002 passes the House 29-7.
Rep. Jennifer Johnston, R-Anchorage: This bill contains the language which allows us to fund critical programs and capture federal funds. Too many programs will be left unfunded is this bill is not passed.
Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla: “This could be a could bill,” she says. But why would you complicate it with language that is too complicated for the public to understand.
Referencing Sec. 17, she says she can never remember voting to give up her own future vote.
Legislators from both sides are urging compromises and lamenting the lack of mutual respect they’ve felt. Several have said that felt pushed out of the process.
Rep. Sara Rasmussen, R-Anchorage, says that she ran on fiscal responsibility and ending the crime epidemic. Funding the state from the CBR is not what she would prefer, but not doing so would be devastating for the state. She has heard from constituents what not funding the capital budget would mean for them.
We all want to do what’s best for Alaskans, Rep. Dan Ortiz, I-Ketchikan says. He asks that before his colleagues press the button to vote, they consider what is best for Alaska.
Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, says he cannot recall any time before this administration where critical programs were brought into question.
He says that in HB 2002 there is nothing unusual in this bill and he urges his colleagues to vote yes on the bill.
10: 55 a.m.
Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, says that the framers of the state constitution did not create dedicated funds on purpose.
If it really is that simple, Wilson asks, why are we not just voting on reversing the sweep alone? Why have we pitted Alaskans against each other? I want to be a yea vote today, she says, but this bill is too open ended. Any legislation that can get a majority vote can get funds from the Constitutional Budget Reserve.
Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, takes the floor to talk about the importance of “test fisheries,” which are integral to the success of commercial and private fishing in the state, she says.
“These funds have been swept,” she says, and without those funds the agencies of the state cannot fulfill those duties with financial responsibility.
HB 2002 comes to the floor for debate. Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, says that the bill is not about scholarships or highway funding. It is about sec. 17, which is meant to undermine the ability of the minority to participate in the discussion on budget.
Sec. 17 says in effect, “From now until January 2021, you don’t need my vote,” Eastman says. He says that he will be a “no” vote today because of Sec. 17.
10: 42 a.m.
House comes to order. 36 present, zero absent.
The bells calling the House to session have been rung. Legislators are filing into the House chamber. Four representatives, Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, Mark Neuman, R-Big Lake, George Rauscher, R-Sutton and Dave Talerico, R-Healy, are excused.
The House was scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. but has been delayed until 10:30 to allow time for more legislators to arrive.
After once again failing to get the votes necessary to pass a budget Sunday, the House is meeting today for another attempt. Up for consideration is HB 2002, originally introduced by Gov. Mike Dunleavy but heavily modified over the weekend. It passed the Senate 19-0 on Saturday.
But in the House, while the capital budget itself passed the House 27-6, the vote to fund certain portions of the budget with money from the Constitutional Budget Reserve failed to garner the necessary 30 votes. That vote failed 25-8.
Voting against the bill were Reps. David Eastman, R-Wasilla; Sharon Jackson, R-Eagle River; DeLena Johnson, R-Palmer; Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage; Colleen Sullivan-Leonard, R-Wasilla; Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla; Sarah Vance, R-Homer; and Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, the Empire reported Sunday.
Several representatives were excused from Sunday’s vote and it is hoped that more will be present to vote Monday. Without passing a capital budget the state risks losing more than $900 million in federal funds for infrastructure, as well as leaving several programs for scholarships and public health unfunded.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or email@example.com