I am writing to ask all Legislators to override Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s indiscriminately cruel and unnecessary budget vetoes. The future of Alaska is riding on them overriding the budget.
Lawmakers put in countless hours and a huge effort to create a budget that made significant yet thoughtful cuts. In addition, residents of communities statewide weighed in on what is important to them, giving their time and careful thought to contribute important testimonies on what they value in their state.
As a lifelong Alaskan of more than 65 years, I grew up in a territory, and then a state, that prospered from strong community efforts that developed important ideas to make Alaska a wonderful place to live and raise a family.
I witnessed the development of University of Alaska Southeast, which started as a community college, and grew into a university with one of the most beautiful campuses I have seen. I attended college there and later worked 32 years for the Juneau School District. My sister was also a teacher for many years in the district. I strongly value a public school system that is appropriately funded so our youngest residents can have opportunities for good jobs and careers that will in turn contribute to an Alaska that offers prosperity for all.
My husband is a professor at UAS. My parents were strong supporters of the University system in Alaska and for the arts statewide. My father served on the Alaska Supreme Court and was the first Alaskan appointed to serve as a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
My mother was a founding member and served for many years on Alaska’s State Council for the Arts. My sisters and our families have also been active volunteers and supporters of the arts and of public education in Alaska.
The availability of higher ecucation has shaped the lives of our high school graduates giving them an affordable education and opportunities for a better future. I have been a teacher of art and an advocate for the arts and feel fortunate to live in a state where there is a State Council for the Arts (50 years!) that supports and fosters artists and the arts throughout Alaska. Arts are a foundational part of our Alaska Native cultures as well as a daily part of our children’s public education. They enhance our quality of life while providing tourism and other businesses with popular, profitable products as well as jobs for our residents. Our communities value the arts as a way to communicate and enrich our lives.
I am on the list for the Pioneers Home for when that day comes. I have enjoyed countless ferry travels, some for pleasure, many a necessary means of transportation. We all have enjoyed a court system that is often held up as a model for other states. And so it goes, with the list of valuable, vital, foundational organizations and government supported and valued services that have been cut to unsustainable levels by Alaska’s governor.
I can’t imagine living in this beautiful state of Alaska, without the services we depend on and need for daily life and for our quality of life.
I am appalled at the lack of understanding or willingness of our governor to listen to the people of this fine state and the legislators who worked so hard to develop a fair budget.
Alaska prospered quite well before the oil boom days. We had an income tax and a school tax. We can live with a partial PFD but we can’t live with the dismantling of valuable organizations through these crippling cuts. We are looking at a very disturbing future where Alaska, our home, will not recover for many years to come, if ever. The governor’s vetoes will destroy all the hard and meaningful work and accomplishments of so many Alaskans throughout the years since statehood and long before. Alaska will become undesirable for residents and unviable for new business and opportunities. Is this what we want? I can’t believe any one of you can possibly believe this is best for our state.
Please do the right thing and stand up for our future. Our state depends on your override of the governor’s vetoes. Please do the right thing for our most vulnerable Alaskans, for the future of our children, the care of our elderly, the transportation lifeline of our ferries, and the enrichment appreciated by all of our valued arts programs.
• Miriam Boochever Medenica resides in Juneau.