Union head: Dunleavy budget 'rips apart the fabric' of Alaska
The president of an organization that represents 50,000 union workers in Alaska is blasting Gov. Mike Dunleavy's proposed austerity budget.
Vince Beltrami, who leads the Alaska AFL-CIO, had harsh words Tuesday for the governor's proposal to lawmakers.
"The Dunleavy administration seems to be in a full attack mode with this budget that devastates just about everything that's dear to just about everyone in Alaska," Beltrami said. "This budget just rips apart the fabric of everything we've established as reasonable services in Alaska."
Shortly before its release nearly two weeks ago, Dunleavy told KTVA that he was building the state's budget "from the bottom up" to address a $1.6 billion budget deficit. Some of his moves were foreshadowed during last year's gubernatorial debates with then-Gov. Bill Walker and Democrat Mark Begich, but Beltrami emphasized the broad-based nature of the cuts.
"You name it, there is something that is bad for Alaska in this budget and it certainly doesn't reflect the values that Alaskans have come to expect, I think, in what they want for our state," Beltrami said. "Decent services, decent health care, a good education, decent roads: these are all things that are going to get hammered in this budget."
Beltrami said about half of the unions represented by the Alaska AFL-CIO represent public employees, and most of them work for the state. Some of those employees work in programs facing some of the biggest cuts, including an "elimination budget" at the Alaska Marine Highway System and a potential 41 percent cut to the University of Alaska's budget. Others work at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, which is now operating under privatized leadership.
The Alaska AFL-CIO's leadership is meeting regularly with union heads about the situation, Beltrami said, and will continue to urge legislators to reject the governor's budget. A protest led by union members is scheduled for noon Wednesday on the state Capitol's steps in Juneau.
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