The recent budget vetoes from the governor’s office are either foolish, vindictive, unconstitutional or downright nasty.
The legislators sent a bipartisan budget to the governor. He opted to veto most of the provisions the legislators had agreed upon. This past week they had the opportunity to override those vetoes, knowing full well the will of the majority of Alaskans hoped they would do so. Instead, some of them put their collective head in the sand and refused to even show up in Juneau to have their votes put on record. The governor’s choice of Wasilla as the meeting place for the session was designed to do exactly what he wished: to divide and conquer the will of the people. The 22 legislators, all coincidentally Republican, should be ashamed of themselves for buying into his deception.
The few letters to the editor in newspapers around the state that support the vetoes say the governor only did what he said he would do as he campaigned for governor. He promised a “full dividend” and no cuts to essential services. It was easy to see he could not have it both ways without expanding state income (taxes, etc.), but people chose to believe that lie anyway.
These same supporters of Dunleavy’s vetoes insist we do not have an income problem but rather a spending problem. I would agree with that to the extent that we are “spending” too much on the PFD! If we agreed to keep the annual PFD around the historical average (close to $1,000 per year) we would have no need to cut any of the programs the governor vetoed. It is obvious to me that restoring the “full PFD” of around $3,000 might help the governor and these legislators get reelected. Let’s see how that plays out when Alaskans finally realize that $3,000 (minus the 25% that goes to the Feds as income tax) did not buy them a good education, good health care, reliable senior benefits, better police protection or any of the myriad other services the governor has chosen to reduce or eliminate.
I have always felt that people elected to public office should think deeply about the legacy they leave after having served. Do the absentee legislators want to be remembered as the group who gave away money to each individual while at the same time robbing them of the ability to enjoy such basic services as education, senior care, arts and public safety? Or would they rather be remembered for having put aside partisanship to work together to restore those services that were denied us by this governor and his Outside influencers?
I ask these 22 legislators to work with the brave legislators who voted to override the vetoes to come up with solutions to our fiscal problem. Notably, to reduce the PFD to a reasonable and sustainable amount, and to increase revenues by changing the oil tax regimen, raising the gasoline tax and reinstating the school and income taxes. This will ensure all Alaskans will have a guaranteed annual PFD plus all the services we have come to enjoy.
Karl Monetti lives in North Pole.