10:40 a.m. Thursday
Our full story, with quotes from attendees and fuller quotes from Story, can be found here.
After about 45 minutes of questions, this wraps up. Story closes by acknowledging that there is a lot of uncertainty out there.
“While I am optimistic about Alaska figuring these things out,” Story says, “I’m very aware of the issues that you brought up here tonight. I can’t tell you how many people are worried about their jobs.”
A school district employee mentions the trash can catching rainwater at Riverbend Elementary. We wrote about that/took a photo of that almost two years ago. The story itself is obviously a little out of date now but you can check out the photo here.
We’re back on the PFD. The man who works for the AMHS asks why the governor and others are talking about a $3,000 PFD if it’s going to result in a deficit of $1.15 billion.
“I have a hard time explaining to my relatives that don’t live in Alaska,” he says. “I tell them that we’re losing our jobs and the ferries can’t run…but the good news is we’re going to get a $3,000 dividend.”
Story tries to offer both sides, saying the governor wants to stick with the 1982 statute that sets the formula for the dividend, and that there’s an argument that a hefty dividend will spark the economy. Still, Story is in favor of a more manageable and sustainable dividend.
“I don’t think the governor understands how important the ferry system is to Southeast,” one attendee says. “He’s not closing roads anywhere else in the state other than in Southeast, with the marine highway system.”
Ferries are starting to dominate the conversation. Story points out someone in the audience who shared a story about growing up in Petersburg and the value of the ferries.
“You could go to Juneau for $10,” the audience member says as people ooh and ah.
Story is asked whether there will still be pink slips for state employees if the governor doesn’t sign the operating budget by July 1.
“He’s verbally said that he’s not going to send out pink slips,” Story says, “so I’m taking him at his word.”
An employee from the ferry system chimes in, saying, “I’ve gotten an impression that the railbelt’s running the show” and that he’s very worried about the governor possibly vetoing the AMHS budget.
One attendee, a state employee, asks what people can do about to stop state jobs from leaving Juneau. Good timing on her question, as we wrote about that just this past Sunday. The article includes thoughts from Story.
Story says local residents can support local businesses and promote the local economy in general.
We’re on to question time.
The first two questions, believe it or not, are about the PFD. The first is about the $10 million proposed transfer to the constitutionally protected part of the Permanent Fund, and the second is about the conflicting laws surrounding the PFD. Story explains that there was an original formula in statute to determine the size of the PFD, and then explains that last year’s Legislature passed Senate Bill 26, which allows the state to pull a certain amount from the fund to pay for government services.
On that last point, she nods to Parish, who was part of the Legislature when that bill passed.
Story shows a graph of state spending by department, showing that a $3,000 Permanent Fund Dividend would be the largest state expenditure. Looking at the list of departments, one attendee says, “I’d like to see the budget for the governor’s office eliminated.” There are snickers around the room, but Story, unfazed, moves on.
The event begins with a presentation from Story, which she says will last about 30 minutes. She starts off by listing off some of the major accomplishments of this session, in her view. She’s focusing on the operating budget and the crime bill.
“We made some cuts I didn’t agree with,” Story says, “particularly the $44 million ferry cut.”
Story is live-streaming this on Facebook, which you can watch below.
We’re getting going now.
“It’s a great responsibility to try and represent everyone,” Story says, “and I’m doing my best to work hard and listen to the concerns that I hear.”
“I have learned so much this year, Story adds. “I’ve been really excited for the opportunities I’ve had to meet people. We’ve been wrestling with a lot of big issues and that’s been a lot of emotional energy.”
Looks like we’ll be getting started a few minutes late, as people are still trickling in. Former Rep. Justin Parish, who formerly held the seat Story is in, is one of about 15 people on hand so far.
We’re about to head to a town hall held by Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library here in Juneau. There have been a couple town halls with all three members of the Juneau delegation, but this one is focused just on Story’s constituents in the Mendenhall Valley.
It’s set to go from 5-6:30 p.m.
It should be interesting, especially with the Legislature still not done with the PFD or the capital budget and with the operating budget still not signed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. We’ll see what people say and ask.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.