No more cuts: Local organizations urge Dunleavy to stop slashing
Dozens of local organizations and nonprofits representing thousands of Alaskans in labor, education, social services and more met outside the Robert P. Atwood Building in downtown Anchorage Wednesday afternoon to hold a unified press conference urging Gov. Mike Dunleavy to sign the operating budget he currently has before him.
"The people have spoken overwhelmingly, and the Legislature has fixed it twice," AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami said. "Sign the budget, governor. No more vetoes, let's get Alaska back on track."
In a release on Monday, the governor said he plans on signing Senate Bill 2002 this week, but that he'll exercise his line-item veto authority where necessary.
According to the release, the governor says the bill is "an important step in the Legislature bringing this gridlock to an end” particularly with the progress it makes in areas like the "Alaska Performance Scholarship, WWAMI, PCE, and efforts to capture more than $1 billion in federal transportation and infrastructure dollars."
Leaders in education and social services also spoke at the rally, concerned for what drastically smaller budgets could mean for their programs.
President of the National Education Association's Alaska chapter Tim Parker said the continued threat of pink slips going to Alaskan educators isn't doing anyone any favors.
"The threat of pink slips has become an annual, almost an accepted, practice. And it really is not a good practice," Parker said. "It's one that causes turnover, causes people to leave schools, causes instability in our K-12 system that hurts us in the long run."
Looming budget cuts would also impact families and people who rely on help from nonprofits like Catholic Social Services. The group's board president Michael Fredericks says she's projecting a 48% increase in homelessness due to eliminated funding and services.
"With the funding cuts to our budget we have lost $1.2 million in state funding used for our clients who are experiencing homelessness, are on the edge of homelessness or who are newly housed," Fredericks said.
The governor has until Aug. 17 to sign SB 2002 or veto all or parts of it.
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