Under ‘Save Our State’ banner, coalition implores Dunleavy to reverse budget cuts

Representatives from almost 30 organizations from around the state gathered outside the Robert B. Atwood Building in Anchorage to urge Gov. Mike Dunleavy to change course on his line-item vetoes to the state’s operating budget. (Photo by Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

A coalition of more than two dozen organizations gathered for a press conference Wednesday in Anchorage under the moniker “Save Our State.” Their message for Gov. Mike Dunleavy: no more vetoes.

State legislators passed House Bill 2001 at the end of July. It would reverse most of the nearly $400 million in budget vetoes that Dunleavy enacted at the end of June. It would also set permanent fund dividends at $1,600 this year. That’s in contrast to Dunleavy’s desire for a full PFD under the 1982 statutory formula. That would yield PFDs of roughly $3,000.

Michael Fredericks is chair of the board for Anchorage nonprofit Catholic Social Services. At the press conference, she said that the governor’s vetoes would cut their budget by $1.2 million.

Fredericks said that more than 3,000 clients were served by CSS in the first quarter of this year, with needs ranging from housing and food to those of refugees and pregnant women.

“Twenty-one percent of them were over 55,” Fredericks said. “Sixteen percent of them are children.”

She said the organization has already had to close the Clare House homeless shelter during the day in order to maintain nighttime operation. Fredericks said CSS projects a 48% increase in homelessness, should the governor veto the funds a second time.

Alaska AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami was another speaker at the event. He said early estimates show that Alaska would lose jobs under Dunleavy’s vetoes. When asked if he was optimistic that the governor would sign a bill that would undo most of his vetoes, Beltrami pointed to constituents’ testimony to state lawmakers.

“The people have spoken overwhelmingly. And the Legislature has fixed it twice,” Beltrami said. “Sign the budget, governor. No more vetoes. Let’s get Alaska back on track.”

House Bill 2001 was delivered to Dunleavy’s desk Wednesday morning for his signature. In his most recent statements on the budget, Dunleavy stood by his vetoes.

The governor has until Aug. 30 to sign or veto the bill, or to issue line-item vetoes.

Alaska Public Media

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