Lawmakers meeting in Juneau for a self-organized but possibly legally questionable special session have scheduled a joint House and Senate floor session for this morning to take up Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s operating budget vetoes in hopes of overriding many, if not all, of them. 

While the 38 lawmakers present in Juneau plan to attend, that still leaves the group lacking the 45 votes needed to override any of the vetoes.

A group of Republican lawmakers is meeting is Wasilla, heeding the governor’s special session call, while others have returned to Juneau for their own session. Disputes over the amount of this year’s Alaska Permanent Fund dividend as well as the amount by which to cut government spending have fueled the divide between the two groups. As of Tuesday evening, it remained unclear whether there would be enough members in Juneau to override any of the vetoes.

Here's what some Fairbanks-area lawmakers had to say.

Bart LeBon

Bart LeBon 

Rep. Bart LeBon, R-Fairbanks, District 1

Q: Do you support a blanket override of the governor’s vetoes?

A: “Yes, but I expect the chances of a blanket override are somewhat small. I won’t say there’s zero chance. But the chance for selected veto overrides are greater. The chance that we can go through the 182 items and maybe we’ll get members of the Senate and the House minority to support just some of the overrides.”

Q: What are some of your funding priorities within the operating budget?

A: LeBon said he supports the budget as a whole as it was passed by the Legislature: “We went through a budget underwriting process. House and Senate Finance, full bodies and then the conference committee process. It took several months to go through every line item in the budget, both bodies came up with an amount, and then there was a budget that was passed. To me, the sum total of that budget was a very responsible budget for Alaska.” 

Grier Hopkins

Grier Hopkins

Rep. Grier Hopkins, D-Fairbanks, District 4

Q: Do you support a blanket override of the governor’s vetoes? 

A: Yes.

Q: What are some of your funding priorities within the operating budget?

A: Other than the University of Alaska, Hopkins noted the importance of the $7.2 million in homelessness grants, the State Council on the Arts, and public broadcasting.

Adam Wool

Adam Wool

Rep. Adam Wool, D-Fairbanks, District 5

Q: Do you support a blanket override of the governor’s vetoes?

A: Yes.

Q: What are some of your funding priorities within the operating budget? 

A: Besides funds that go to homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, all the funding for the social safety nets. State arts council. Senior Benefits Program. “The cumulative affect of the whole thing would push people away from Fairbanks and the state.”

Dave Talerico

Rep. Dave Talerico

AP Photo/Mark Thiessen

Rep. Dave Talerico, R-Healy, District 6

Q: Do you support a blanket override of the governor’s vetoes?

A: “No, I don’t support a blanket override. Right now, because of the number of people who won’t be in Juneau, I just don’t think there’s a way for them to get to 45 votes by (today). I still think there is an opportunity to come up with some compromises. Maybe restoring funding through the capital budget or supplemental funding. I think there’s some wiggle room. I don’t think the world just ends, that everything just comes crashing down, because we are going to be in session for the capital budget, so there are ways we can work it out.”

Talerico noted his preference would be to approach funding through the capital budget or supplemental funding to restore some of the cuts. He noted he hadn’t considered a piece-by-piece approach to veto overrides because he doesn’t see the Legislature gaining the votes for any kind of override.

Q: What are some of your funding priorities within the operating budget?

A: “Some of the important ones for me are adult dental care; Head Start — I’m a big fan of the Head Start program; Senior Benefits; and even the arts.” 

Scott Kawasaki

Scott Kawasaki

Sen. Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks, District A

Q: Do you support a blanket override of the governor’s vetoes? 

A: Yes.

Q: What are some of your funding priorities within the operating budget? 

A: “Well, do you want me to go through all 100 or so of them? I mean the University of Alaska is number one. But the 50% cut for bond debt reimbursement is another one because it forces the borough to raise local property taxes.” 

Kawasaki also noted the importance of the senior benefits program, early childhood education funding, funding for public broadcasting and the Alaska State Council on the Arts, Village Public Safety Officers and local community matching grants for nonprofit resource agency funding. 

John Coghill

John Coghill

Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, District B

Q: Do you support a blanket override of the governor’s vetoes?

A: Yes.

Q: What are some of your funding priorities within the operating budget?

A: “(Other than the University of Alaska) A whole range of issues in there, what I didn’t want to do was disassemble his vetoes and talk about the priorities, because that’s what we already did in our budget subcommittees. It’s hard for me to pit one against the other, because we already went through process almost agency by agency. For me, my priorities are what is put forward in our original budget we passed as a Legislature.” 

Click Bishop

Click Bishop

Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, District C

Q: Do you support a blanket override of the governor’s vetoes?

A: Yes.

Q: What are some of your funding priorities within the operating budget?

A: “All of it. It’s all important. From A to Z. We’ve already passed a budget, and it was clear. We did the work.”

*North Pole Republican Rep. Tammie Wilson and Fairbanks Republican Rep. Steve Thompson were unable to be reached for comments.

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.