Gov. Dunleavy: Wasilla Middle School ‘absolutely’ appropriate for special session

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaking in front of Wasilla Middle School on Friday.
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WASILLA, Alaska (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy says that Wasilla Middle School is “absolutely” appropriate for an upcoming special session amid logistical concerns over how the session will function.

With just over two weeks until the start of the next financial year, the governor also pledged to sign the operating budget into law before July 1, averting a state government shutdown.

“We will not be sending out pink slips,” he said.

Dunleavy then touted the benefits of holding a legislative session in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, saying it’s centrally located and within driving distance of 500,000 Alaskans.

Some lawmakers, and the nonpartisan Legislative Affairs Agency (LAA), have questioned how sound in floor sessions would be recorded, how the school would be secured and where legislative staff would be housed.

Jeremy Price, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, led a tour around the school answering questions one-by-one by reporters. He said the school was “the ideal” place in the Valley to host the Legislature.

Two different gymnasiums could hold separate floor sessions for the Alaska House of Representatives and the Alaska Senate, the school library could function as a cabinet room and the cafeteria could host committee meetings.

Ultimately, it would be up to the LAA to decide how the session at Wasilla Middle School would be organized, said Matt Shuckerow, the governor’s press secretary.

The governor’s staff side-stepped answering definitively how much a special session at the school would cost. Jessica Geary, the executive director of the LAA, said it could “absolutely” top $1 million in staffing costs and transporting necessary supplies from Juneau.

The second special session, set to begin July 8, will focus solely on the Permanent Fund dividend.

Another pressing issue for the Legislature is the largely unfunded $1.6 billion capital budget.

“Once we get through the PFD, the issues with the capital budget will be taken care of pretty quickly,” the governor said, before continuing to explain he would “imagine” another special session would be needed to sort all those issues out.

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