Governor responds to concerns from Alaskans on both sides of budget debate
Many Alaskans have spoken out in favor or against many of the governor's $444 million in state budget vetoes. Recently we asked Gov. Mike Dunleavy to comment specifically on concerns from different people.
When lawmakers gathered in Wasilla, Joe Schlanger sounded off about not receiving a $3,000 Permanent Fund dividend.
"You guys sit here and bicker and fight because you won't give a PFD; the $3,000. I could use it. I have a family member, significant other, that's disabled," Schlanger said.
We then asked the governor if Schlanger would get his $3,000.
"We're working as hard as we can. I get a lot of those contacts and phone calls," Gov. Dunleavy said last week.
The governor went on to say many people are struggling and cited several thousand people who lost their jobs in the Alaska recession. He says the debate boils down to one big question.
"Who gets to spend the Permanent Fund dividend, the people of Alaska or the government? The government already gets 50% of the earnings," Gov. Dunleavy said. "Now it looks like some of the politicians want to take the remaining 50% all for government, all for the programs that they decide as opposed to what the people of Alaska decide."
Gov. Dunleavy also responded to UAA Gymnastics team members who recently spoke about concerns of the program being cut when the University of Alaska declared financial exigency.
"We are so close to graduation and the fact all of that can be taken away from us in such a short amount of time, with no real time to plan for our future it’s just scary honestly," said team member Sophia Hyderally.
Faculty have also expressed concerns about whether they will have jobs.
"We are all wondering that. Oh yeah, I mean it doesn't matter if you have tenure, it doesn't. And we are definitely going to lose faculty," said Faculty Alliance Chair Maria Williams.
The governor called the university's situation "unfortunate."
"Once again, if the Legislature had completed the work in April we would have had plenty of time to work earlier with the university on how to develop a step-down approach," he said.
On Tuesday, UA officials said legislative action provides an additional $110 million for UA's operating budget, calling it "very positive and welcome news." The governor vetoed around $130 million for UA's budget in June. University officials say even if the $110 million is not vetoed when the budget goes to the governor, it still represents a $25 million cut which is a "substantial reduction" in its budget.
The UA Board of Regents meets Tuesday morning to further discuss the budget situation. The meeting is set for 9 a.m. at Lee Gorsuch Commons, Room 107 at UAA.
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