AASB LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Governor’s Vetoes of HB 69 – FY22 Operating Budget

The FY22 Operating Budget process continues to unfold. With the failure of the House to pass an effective date, the governor characterized it as a “defective budget” and announced his intent not to sign the bill. Concurrently, the governor called a 2nd Special Session convening immediately following the 1st Special Session. As previously reported in The Session, the House narrowly passed, by one vote, an effective date avoiding a state government shutdown. HB 69, with an effective date, was transmitted to the governor for his signature. 

Alaska’s governor has constitutional authority over the budget that is rarely in place in any other state. The governor has line-item veto authority for appropriation bills. He may delete or reduce any individual item in appropriation bills (Alaska Constitution, Article 2, Section 15). Additionally, upon a veto, the Legislature can only override the veto through a super-majority vote of ¾ of the membership of the Legislature (Alaska Constitution, Article 2, Section 16). Governor Dunleavy has taken advantage of this authority and on July 1 held a Facebook press conference to announce his vetoes. Alaska’s governors have frequently taken advantage of this constitutional authority and routinely vetoed portions of the budget not aligned with their political beliefs or vision for the state.

The governor has made no secret both during his gubernatorial campaign and in press conferences, of his advocacy for a larger Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) and a constitutional amendment to codify the calculation and actual permanence of the PFD. During the press conference, Governor Dunleavy made several references relating to the PFD as the “people’s right” and the obligation to ensure payment of the PFD in the budget process. During Q & A with the media, questions were posed regarding the meaning of his statements relative to the PFD. The governor reiterated his positions on the “people’s right” and obligations to a constitutional responsibility to fund the PFD at a constitutional amount rather than a statutory amount and make the funding of the PFD a priority in the budget process. His veto of the $500.00 PFD in the FY22 was done because, as the governor stated, the $500.00 amount is “a joke.”

VIDEO: Governor Dunleavy Press Conference 7/1/21

Included in the vetoes is the funding for legislative per diem during the special session. The governor explained that this action was “because the legislature had not done their jobs.” In an ADN article, Sen. Bert Stedman (R-Sitka) said there is an “unwritten rule where you try to stay out of the administration’s budget, and they try to stay out of the Legislature’s budget. If we’re going to play by no rules, then we’ll play by no rules.”

One might conclude that the governor had “drawn a line in the sand” and laid out his position for the legislative agenda in the 3rd special session on what it will take to have an operating budget bill he will sign. That is a PFD in an amount that comes close to the current statutory formula, a pared-down budget, and a constitutional amendment out-lining the PFD formula for Alaska’s citizens to vote on in a general election.  

There were numerous vetoed items in the FY22 operating budget that affect education. This list was obtained from the Alaska Office of Management & Budget (OMB) home page.

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