A group of Fairbanks representatives are bracing for what is anticipated to be a massive turnout for a joint town hall meeting scheduled for tonight.
The four lawmakers have collectively received more than 2,500 emails from constituents since Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced his list of 182 line-item vetoes from the Legislature’s operating budget, most of which plead for legislators to override the vetoes and restore funding to hundreds of services and agencies that stand to be negatively affected by the cuts.
“I’ve gotten probably nearly 1,000 emails since Friday,” said Democratic Rep. Grier Hopkins. “It’s just like three in five minutes; they just keep coming in. It’s insane.”
Since receiving the collection of emails, Hopkins said about 12 people have voiced support for the governor’s cuts.
“A majority of the emails are urging support specifically for the university,” Hopkins said. “But a lot of them are just urging general overrides because of the impacts they will have on the state. But based on the number of emails, I’m expecting a similar community turn out Wednesday.”
Fairbanks Republican Rep. Bart LeBon said, as of Tuesday afternoon, he had tallied about 500 emails from constituents.
“I’ve been trying to keep track. It’s a lot,” LeBon said. “Most of the emails just say override all of the vetoes. There’s general broad support for the operating budget passed out of the House and Senate.”
LeBon had counted a handful of emails urging support for the vetoes and support for a full $3,000 dividend.
“Maybe just 5% or so,” LeBon said, adding that he also anticipates increased attendance at Wednesday’s meeting.
“People are engaged,” he said. “They see what’s happening and they understand the implications and they aren’t happy.”
House Majority Leader Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, estimated his email count at around 750 as of Tuesday afternoon. He noted his staff is tallying and categorizing them by issue and level of support.
“They just keep piling in,” Thompson said. “A vast majority is telling me to override the vetoes. I’d say 20 of the whole group say don’t override and give me my PFD.”
Fairbanks Democratic Rep. Adam Wool, whose district the University of Alaska Fairbanks resides in, set his email tally at around 750 emails as of Tuesday early evening.
“My staff — I’ve still got two working full-time these days — have estimated that all but maybe 20 or 30 say to override,” Wool said, noting it’s most over the issue of university funding. “It’s unifying the people just like it unified the House and the Senate and Democrats and Republicans.”
The town hall will begin at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the theater of the Pioneer Park Civic Center.
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on twitter: @FDNMPolitics.