Juneau lawmakers and city manager react to Dunleavy budget vetoes

Rep. Sara Hannan, Sen. Jessie Kiehl and Rep. Andi Story (left to right), all Democrats and newly sworn in to represent Juneau, pose for photographers outside the Capitol, Jan. 16, 2018. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)
Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

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.

Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

“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, D-Juneau, speaks during a House floor session in Juneau on Feb. 4, 2019.
Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

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.

Juneau City Manager Rorie Watt.
Juneau City Manager Rorie Watt. (Photo by Quinton Chandler/KTOO)

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.

Jeremy Hsieh

Local News Reporter, KTOO

I dig into questions about the forces and institutions that shape Juneau, big and small, delightful and outrageous. What stirs you up about how Juneau is built and how the city works?

Like what you just read? KTOO news stories are member supported. Support your community news source today. Donate to KTOO.
Site notifications
Update notification options
Subscribe to notifications