To the editor: I urge Gov. Mike Dunleavy to please accept the operating budget that was passed by the Legislature. He has already done a lot just by threatening vetoes.
I know he ran on a campaign of a balanced budget. But that was only part of his campaign. He also promised people huge permanent fund dividends while at the same time promising not to drastically cut state services. People voted for him because they wanted it all. But we can’t have it all. We have to choose.
Like him, our state legislators were voted into office. They also represent our democratic collective mind. They have a different vision than he does. But it is still one of austerity. Neither the House nor the Senate passed or even seriously discussed new taxes. And they cut the budget. With a bunch of “liberal” Democrats as part of the House ruling coalition!
The governor certainly has changed the parameters of the discussion. Before his election we were discussing the possibility of new taxes. We were arguing about whether the state budget had already been cut too much. That’s all changed. Heck, University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen even described the Legislature’s $322 million appropriation to the university, a $5 million cut after years of deep cuts, as a “vote of confidence.” Seriously? Alaska is sitting on a huge investment account and our university president is happy that his budget is being cut?
So, I hope the governor accepts that his entry into the debate about the future of our state’s finances has radically altered the conversation. Vetoing all or parts of the state operating budget will just be overkill. He should pass the operating budget as is.