ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Governor Michael J. Dunleavy hosted a Facebook Live Town Hall from Anchorage on Friday to discuss "a variety of issues and topics relating to the ongoing Special Session, including the lack of progress on a number of outstanding items such as the budget, education funding and a full PFD."
The governor has hosted similar town hall events on Facebook in the past, most recently on May 7th. On Friday, he sat with his press secretary Matt Shuckerow fielding questions as they were submitted through social media.
This time, a much bigger part of the discussion was the ongoing special session. Dunleavy also honed in on a lack of progress made toward a finalized budget and voiced concern over the senate's version of the budget, which includes a full statutory PFD. The House version does not.
"That's what's kind of holding up the process," Dunleavy said. "Once the issue of the statutory PFD is settled upon, I would anticipate that the budgets would happen very quickly after that and we could get out of the special session and get on with the business of governing."
The Governor also fielded a question on whether or not he would veto any budget plan that doesn't include the full dividend. While he didn't provide a clear "yes" or "no" answer, he said he believed that the people of Alaska should be involved in any changes made to the PFD or taxes.
He also commented on his motivation to drive down crime limits in the state of Alaska: The recent passage of HB-49 or the "Tough on Crime Bill," he said, could cost the state $90 million over the next two years. Dunleavy alluded to the current cost of crime in Alaska before reminding those watching the town hall that this was one of the major priorities of his campaign.
Some of the questions submitted were directed at alternative ways of generating money for the state. When asked about a possible sales tax, the governor responded that his administration's current focus was to reduce the size of government and begin managing the state as efficiently as possible.
"When we get to that point, then I think more Alaskans would be open to a discussion on potential revenues," Dunleavy said.
He was also questioned over whether a lawsuit was the only way to keep him from cutting education funding across the state. He bluntly answered, "No," and was clear in expressing that he would not veto education funds if they were included in the budget.
The governor ended his live stream on Facebook with optimism, saying he believes that if we can get through the next two years of getting the state's budget into order, then the conversation will shift to how many new industries are coming to the 49th state.