Last week, Governor Dunleavy announced some essential state services he would not veto for a second time. Today, he announced his second round of vetoes to dozens of essential state services that legislators restored in HB 2001 by a bipartisan vote of 40 to 16. Included among the 71 vetoes are behavioral health treatment and recovery grants, public broadcasting, forward funding for K-12 education, the Ocean Ranger program, Adult Dental Medicaid, and Community Assistance for municipalities.
Senate Democratic Leader Tom Begich (D-Anchorage) issued the following statement:
“Over the past month and a half, tens of thousands of Alaskans came out and voiced their opposition to Governor Dunleavy’s draconian budget cuts. Their collective voice was heard loud and clear by the legislature and through that pressure, Governor Dunleavy was forced to reverse course on 42 programs and services. But the Governor’s vetoes continue to display a lack of vision for this state that manufactures instability in our economy, weakens our University system, undermines our skilled workforce, and installs fear in our most vulnerable citizens. This budget will assuredly force major increases to local property and sales taxes.
“These vetoes should never have happened just to ‘start a conversation,’ as Governor Dunleavy suggests. Many Alaskans are already preparing to leave the state or are unable to plan for their future due to a lack of certainty. Alaskans deserve a system of government that works for them from the start, not one that causes us to live our lives through fear and despair.
“The state budget should be a blueprint for opportunities for Alaskans to succeed. That is what the Legislature provided, but the Governor has now significantly rejected. We are a people that offers a helping hand to one another in the moment of need because that is the Alaskan way.”