More than 750 protesters packed the street in front of the Alaska Capitol building on Monday, calling for the state Legislature to override Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget vetoes.
Brian Holst, executive director of the Juneau Economic Development Council, told the crowd the $440 million in cuts to state spending will increase local taxes and turn away millions of dollars in federal support.
“The damage by these cuts is not offset by increased (permanent fund) dividends,” Holst told the crowd. “We join the call on the Legislature to override.”
Protesters responded to Holst with chants of “Override!”
Holst is also president of the Juneau School District Board of Education. He said the unprecedented cuts to the University of Alaska and early education will destroy the talent pipeline Alaska relies on to strengthen its economy.
That point was echoed by Israa Kako, who joined the protest along with her preschool-aged daughter, Allie. Kako said she recently accepted a job out of state. Now she has to decide whether to move or try to work from home so she doesn’t have to uproot her family.
“If the cuts to education occur, Allie will not to college here. She will not go to school here because there needs to be funding for good teachers,” Kako said.
As the protest wrapped up, about two-thirds of the Legislature was inside the capitol for the first day of the second special session. The remainder met in Wasilla, but they did not have a quorum to do business.
The Legislature has until Friday to override the governor’s vetoes.
- The nonpartisan Legislative Finance Division says the numbers in the bill don’t add up — there’s a $102 million gap between projected revenue and expenses if the bill were to pass.
- According to NOAA, over 180 gray whales have washed up dead along the West Coast so far this year. But each new specimen adds a little more clarity for scientists.
- Juneau International Airport officials have organized a simulated emergency exercise for Saturday. The exercise is required to be held every three years as part of the airport's FAA certification.
- Richard Glenn is an inconvenient truth for opponents of drilling in the Arctic Refuge. He presents a challenge to a prevalent narrative in Washington, D.C., that Native people oppose development in the Arctic.