Leg with Louie: MAGA! 45!

When you hear me shout “MAGA, 45!” know that I don’t intend to conjure the hot passions of a Trump rally. Instead, I employ this acronym and number for its it’s more practical use – to politely remind readers that 45 of our legislators together have the power to “Make Alaska’s Government Adequate.” A three quarter vote is needed under our constitution to override a governor’s budget veto. That is 45 out of 60 Alaska State Legislators who need to be clear with the Governor – even at the outset of these budget talks, that they will have the final say in how things turn out, and that things will turn out adequate

The alarm bells are going off all across this great state as we are made aware of the judgement calls that went into the Dunleavy/Arduin Budget.

The pervasiveness of the pain and suffering proposed under this budget is cause for hope: there is simply no political upside to an individual legislator in supporting this budget to the line. The negatives in each individual house and senate district are simply too stark, too local, and too harmful for any one legislator to champion without significant political repercussions.

What legislator wants to have the shuttering of a university campus as the mantelpiece of their state service – and their great legacy as a politician? How about the destruction of the Alaska Marine Highway System or the Alaska Pioneer Home system?  Perhaps a few legislators will fall on their sword to support their leader’s vision, and if that is fine for them, then fine. For many, it is fair to assume, their career goals go beyond this ugly bookend.

The Senate Finance Committee has just started to interrogate the Dunleavy Administration on its proposed budget, by department. The portrait that emerges is of an Administration that wields a faith in the economic power of the Permanent Fund Dividend, and the Privatization of services, to the detriment of mathematic, social, and economic reason. As the red flags and questions accumulate around the Senate Finance Committee table on only Day 2, this administration already finds itself called to task for an inadequate analysis of the potential impacts its budget would unleash on all of us.

Just as our U.S. Congress is called by the president’s cooked-up “Declaration of National Emergency” to decide if it will muster its Co-Equal branch muscle and seek to retain the power of the purse, so our AK Legislature is called to assert its rightful duty to craft and defend an actual budget, unlike the doctrinaire approach of the Dunleavy/Arduin administration which would plunge our state into a real emergency of job loss, economic recession, and extreme property tax increases for philosophical reasons.

I will, in fact, say it until I am blue in the face: Focus on the Legislature, Focus on the Legislature, Focus on the Legislature! Write them, call them, demand answers, ask nicely for answers, testify in committee, organize friends and neighbors to do the same. They have the power to protect this state. It takes 45 of them to override a veto. With enough pressure, we can get to and surpass that golden, bipartisan number.

Don’t lose hope!

Louie Flora
Government Affairs Director

 It’s a bad budget.

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Hearings of Note

Monday, February 18 – 9:00 a.m.
Senate Finance Committee
SB 20-Operating Budget proposed for the Department of Health and Social Services, and the Department of Education and Early Development

Tuesday, February 19 – 9:00 a.m.
Senate Finance Committee
SB 20-Operating Budget proposed for the University of Alaska, the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, the Department of Revenue

Tuesday, February 19 – 11:00 a.m.
Joint Session
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s annual address to the AK Legislature

Tuesday, February 19 – 1:00 p.m.
Senate Finance Budget Subcommittee Department of Education and Early Development
Departmental FY 2020 budget overview

Tuesday, February 19 – 1:30 p.m.
Senate Labor and Commerce Committee
Overview on “Innovation in Alaska”

Tuesday, February 19 – 2:00 p.m.
Senate Finance Budget Subcommittee on University of Alaska
University FY 2020 budget overview

Wednesday, February 20 – 9:00 a.m.
Senate Finance Committee
SB 20 – Operating Budget proposed for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Department of Environmental Conservation, and Department of Natural Resources.

Wednesday, February 20 – 11:00 a.m.  
Joint Session
Alaska State Supreme Court Chief Justice Joel H. Bolger – annual State of the Judiciary address

Thursday, February 21 – 9:00 a.m.
Senate Finance Committee
SB 20 – Operating Budget proposed for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Department of Administration, Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, Office of the Governor

Thursday, February 21 – 11:00 a.m.
Joint Session
U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan’s annual address to the AK Legislature

Friday, February 22 – 9:00 a.m.
Senate Finance Committee
SB 20- Operating Budget: Analysis of SB 20 by Alaska Legislative Finance Division

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