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Letter to the Editor

A funding shell game

To the editor: The money to pay for energy subsidies and college scholarships is stuck in a shell game. The funds were in the accounts for these programs, but Gov. Mike Dunleavy decreed that those funds would be swept, putting the money into the budget reserve. In order to return the funds that were already there, a three-quarters vote of the entire Legislature is needed. Once again, we saw Republicans, mostly from the Anchorage area, kill a vote by not even showing up — the same cowardly tactic they used to block the veto overrides. So the money was there, under one shell, then it wasn’t there, under any shell, and now we can’t put the same money back because it’s stuck under a special shell that’s too heavy to pick up.

It seems there are three ways to go. One is to reverse retroactively the Dunleavy decree that the energy subsidy and scholarship money be emptied at the end of the fiscal year. Why isn’t that possible? This is just putting back the same money that was there before.

A second is to get 30 members of the Legislature to support this move. Five more votes are needed. Good luck with that — these are True Believers in whatever Donna Arduin tells them.

The third is to let the capital budget pass without the energy subsidy and scholarship funds that the Republicans find so objectionable. Thousands of Alaskans will suffer.

There is a fourth way, of course, which is not to give in to Republican blackmail and not pass the capital budget unless the funds are restored. This would be suicide for the state, denying us nearly a billion federal dollars. We could argue about who is to blame while we collapse, but the damage would be enormous.

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