Juneau’s three Democratic lawmakers and its city manager all expressed disappointment with Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s line-item budget vetoes announced on Friday.
Sen. Jesse Kiehl (via phone): “I was pretty shocked at the governor’s vetoes. Effectively, what he did was reinstate the budget that he submitted in February, after the people (who) Alaskans elected came to a broad, bipartisan agreement that made more than $200 million worth of cuts but rejected others as just too harmful to Alaska to make in a year.
“He said he did care what Alaskans’ representatives wanted or thought after serious work and analysis and broad, bipartisan agreement. And he single-handedly reinstated (his cuts) with a veto pen. It’s wildly disrespectful and deeply disappointing to Alaskans.”
Rep. Sara Hannan (via phone): “Well, those vetoes are as bad as we thought they could be. You know, I think many of them are bringing us back to the governor’s budget of February and, I think, are devastating to the economy of Alaska. And I sure hope that we will find some political compromises to go forward and stabilize an operating budget, fund a capital budget, as well as the PFD.”
Rep. Andi Story (via email): “I want to work with the governor to do what is best for Alaska, but from what I see, these vetoes will continue to damage our economy, lead to further job losses, and harm our most vulnerable citizens.
“The governor makes fundamental assumption that is wrong: that gutting government will build and attract the private sector. And the economy of the last three years prove this.”
The City and Borough of Juneau outlined some local impacts of the governor’s vetoes in a statement Friday afternoon.
The impacts include an extra $3.7 million local burden to pay for school-related infrastructure, according to the statement. The statement added that Bartlett Regional Hospital also expects to lose $1.5 million in Medicaid funding.
If the vetoes stand, Juneau City Manager Rorie Watt said the city will be forced, sooner or later, to raise taxes or reduce local services.
“We are obviously disappointed with the governor’s vetoes,” Watt said in the CBJ statement. “We are additionally disappointed that the timing of the state’s process forced municipalities to deliberate and set local tax rates for this fiscal year before the state finalizes its budgetary decisions. ”
Watt expects the Juneau Assembly will address the veto impacts at its July 22 meeting.