• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 21s

Governor may face lawsuit, recall effort over his PFD veto

By Liz Raines 8:50 PM July 6, 2016

Gov. Bill Walker is under fire from both sides of the aisle after his controversial budget veto to limit Permanent Fund Dividend checks to $1,000 this fall. At a press conference last week, Walker said he’d take the blame for it, and now people from both political parties are pointing their fingers.

While a conservative Republican is leading the charge to recall him from office, a Democrat is thinking about suing the governor. Sen. Bill Wielechowski said he’s trying to figure out whether the way Walker cut the dividend is legal.

“It says at the end of each year, the Permanent Fund Corporation shall transfer the amount to pay the dividend,” Wielechowski said, pointing to an Alaska statute.

The Democrat and attorney of 24 years said money for PFD checks should be coming from the Permanent Fund Corporation directly, not the state budget, which is subject to the governor’s veto. But his legislative colleagues aren’t likely to take action.

“I can’t imagine there being enough votes to sue over the decision,” said Sen. Gary Stevens, chair of the Legislative Council.

Wielechowski said he’s ready to move on his own.

“I don’t relish the idea of ever filing a lawsuit, but sometimes you have to stand up when you’re fighting for a belief, something that you believe in,” he said.

The Department of Law said anyone could sue over the issue, and it’s prepared to defend the governor’s decision.

“It’s our opinion that what the governor did is perfectly legal and that the corporation not transferring the money and basing it on the appropriation is the proper way to interpret the constitution and the statute,” said Cori Mills, an assistant attorney general for the department.

But Wielechowski isn’t the only one questioning the PFD cut. Joe Miller, a conservative Republican who challenged Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the 2010 U.S. Senate race, is calling for a recall of Walker.

“Governor Walker Steals $666 million from Alaska’s families — time to recall the liar,” wrote Miller in a post on his campaign site, Restoring Liberty.

According to the Division of Elections, a recall application requires the physical — not electronic — signatures of 10 percent of the population that voted in the last general election. This year, that number is 28,585. That’s just the start of a cumbersome process that includes proving one of the four grounds for recall: fitness, competence, neglect of duty or corruption.

“They are not very successful. Often they are denied because you do have some pretty strict requirements,” said Carol Thompson, absentee and petition manager with the Division of Elections.

Thompson said there’s only ever been one application filed to recall a governor — Gov. Walter Hickel in 1992 — and the courts ultimately ruled against it.

In a statement, Walker responded to the recall efforts:

“I respect these Alaskans’ right to voice their objections over my budget vetoes. However that does not sway my decision on how to address the state’s fiscal challenges. Alaska is currently facing a $4 billion budget deficit. Without significant changes, the Permanent Fund Dividend will go to zero in just four years. I was proud to follow the actions of the Republican-led Senate, which voted to restructure the Permanent Fund. While the actions we took were not politically popular, they were absolutely necessary to preserve our state’s savings and bring fiscal stability back to Alaska.”

Wielechowski said he plans to file a lawsuit after the upcoming special session — which starts Monday in Juneau — if the Legislature fails to overturn the governor’s PFD veto or change Alaska law.

KTVA 11’s Liz Raines can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

Latest Stories

  • Weather

    Hello spring? Anchorage may get 5 to 9 inches of snow overnight

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 28, 16:41

    The National Weather Service says Anchorage residents should expect between 5 and 9 inches of wet snow through Wednesday morning. The NWS issued a winter weather advisory that will be in effect from 10 p.m. Tuesday to 10 a.m. Wednesday. Watch the entire KTVA Weather forecast at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. “Periods of snow […]

  • Weather

    KTVA Weather Lab: Aquarian Charter School

    by Melissa Frey on Mar 28, 15:56

    In this week’s KTVA Weather Lab, I visited Aquarian Charter School in Anchorage, where the second and third graders in Ms. Sarah and Ms. Stacy’s classes have been tracking the weather all year. I also answered the question of the week: What do meteorologists do on an average day? Every Tuesday, Melissa Frey will take the KTVA […]

  • News

    Multiple agencies searching for missing seal hunter in Western Alaska

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 28, 15:38

    Last updated at 4:46 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28 Multiple agencies and search and rescue groups are working together to find a Newtok seal hunter who was reported overdue Monday morning. Alaska State Troopers received word that 59-year-old Tom John was overdue around 11:45 a.m., more than 24 hours after he left the village of […]

  • Politics

    Meet the candidates: District 5 – Seat I – East Anchorage

    by Daniella Rivera on Mar 28, 15:21

    KTVA invited every registered candidate running in the upcoming Anchorage municipal election to an on-camera interview at our studios to discuss the following topics: Balancing the budget Public safety Introducing new taxes Addressing homelessness in Anchorage Plans for the future We also asked each candidate to submit a 300-word biography, each of which has been […]

  • News

    Anchorage police respond to report of gunfire between 2 vehicles in Northeast Anchorage

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 28, 12:11

    Anchorage police officers were called to Northeast Anchorage Monday evening shortly before 7 p.m. after witnesses in the area reported hearing gunshots. One witness told the Anchorage Police Department that multiple shots had been fired between two vehicles near the intersection of 11th Avenue and Turpin Street, according to a release from APD spokesperson Renee […]

  • Sports

    GCI Great Alaska Shootout: Same tournament, different marketing strategy

    by Dave Goldman on Mar 28, 11:56

    This November, the GCI Great Alaska Shootout has a big anniversary — it turns 40. The tournament’s look has changed over the years. Now, University of Alaska Anchorage’s athletic director, Keith Hackett, is marketing it that way too. For decades the tournament featured some of the biggest programs in college basketball. But the days of the […]

  • News

    Trump signs order rolling back Obama-era environmental efforts

    by Associated Press on Mar 28, 11:42

    President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that will roll back many of former President Barack Obama’s efforts to curb global warming. The order is aimed at helping spur American energy jobs. The president signed the order at the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump says this is “the start of a new […]

  • Lifestyle

    Power outage leaves Juneau skiers dangling on chair lift

    by Associated Press on Mar 28, 9:29

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – A weekend power outage at Juneau’s Eaglecrest Ski Area left 200 skiers temporarily dangling. The Juneau Empire reports three chairlifts that use power from Alaska Electric Light & Power shut down Sunday morning during an outage. Alaska Electric Light &Power spokeswoman Debbie Driscoll says a squirrel made contact with energized and […]