Gov. Mike Dunleavy recently declared that the Legislature has “absolutely nothing to show for the special sessions.” This is simply inaccurate.
In the second special session, in June, we passed the operating and capital budgets — for a second time — after a dispute over the effective date earlier in the month. Given the divisions within the Legislature, that was a pretty monumental achievement.During one special session, then another, we funded an affordable Permanent Fund dividend. We reappropriated PFD monies after some members voted against a funding source for part of the monies and the governor vetoed the remainder down to $0.
In August, we restored funding that had been earlier appropriated for public health nursing. The governor had vetoed some of those monies, and then changed course and asked, essentially, that we undo his veto.Also in August, we funded $54 million in oil tax cash credits. (Ironically, most House Democrats had earlier supported payment of even more tax credits, but most House Republicans had opposed the funding). In the same bill, we restored about $400,000 in funds to Alaska Legal Services to help poor litigants confronted with, among other things, threats of domestic violence. The governor had previously vetoed those funds.
In August, we also funded the Alaska Energy Authority’s Renewable Energy Project grants. Additionally, we appropriated monies for negotiated contract raises for court service officers and deputy fire marshals.Finally, during the August special session, the Legislature appropriated monies related to myriad COVID-19 relief programs.Some might also highlight that the bipartisan Legislative Fiscal Policy Working Group also completed an important report that indicated that payment of the PFD the governor wants would require the imposition of between $500 million and $700 million in broad-based taxes.
So, when the governor asserts that the Legislature did “absolutely nothing” during the special sessions, that’s provably wrong. I don’t know any legislator that thought the fourth special session, which began Oct. 4, was a good idea. The fact that nothing was accomplished in it came as no real surprise to most legislators.
— Rep. Andy Josephson
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