Governor vetoes $444 million from the budget

By  | 

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy has vetoed hundreds of millions of dollars from the FY2020 operating budget passed by the Legislature, including big hits to the University of Alaska and Medicaid.

Dunleavy's cuts add up to $444 million. When coupled with the Legislature's cuts, the budget is nearly $700 million less than the budget passed in 2018.

The governor signed the operating budget Friday morning and announced that the UA system would see an additional spending reduction of $130 million, translating to a cut of roughly 41 percent.

“Funding for all of the community campuses, including University of Alaska Southeast, remains intact,” read a statement from the governor’s office. The majority of the cuts will hit the University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The governor told reporters Friday that the University of Alaska is "resilient" and that university leaders would work out ways to manage the cuts.

Medicaid will see a cut of $50 million from the governor’s veto pen. The Department of Health and Social Services is working with the federal government to reduce spending and reform the program.

“Cost-saving measures can be achieved in the Medicaid program through creativity, program reform, and focusing on fraud,” read a written statement from the governor’s office.

The governor told the media that cuts to some Medicaid programs, including for adult dental, would be covered by a full statutory Permanent Fund dividend.

The Legislature approved paying 100 percent of municipal governments' school construction costs at a cost of over $100 million. The governor will veto 50 percent of that amount, saving the state $48 million.

Leaders from municipal governments across the state have signaled that property taxes may have to rise to cover the gap in revenue.

The governor will also eliminate the Senior Benefits Program, a program that gives a monthly allowance to low-income older Alaskans.

Around $3,000,000 will be cut from public broadcasting and $3,000,000 will be cut from the Village Public Safety Officer Program. The funding for the VPSO program is more than needed and unable to be spent, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, released a statement on social media condemning the vetoes made by the governor.

"What’s more important to Alaskans: a healthy economy, our schools, university, and seniors, or doubling the permanent fund dividend at the expense of essential state services? The Governor has made his choice clear," wrote Edgmon.

Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, wrote in a statement that the Senate majority was focused on protecting core state services and reducing spending.

In a statement, Giessel gave a wait-and-see approach to the governor's vetoes and whether the Senate majority would seek to override any of them.

“Protecting the Permanent Fund and prioritizing essential services were among the guiding principles of this Senate. It is those principles that will continue to guide us as we consider each of the vetoed budget items in the coming days,” she wrote in a prepared statement.

In total, Dunleavy vetoed 182 items included from the Legislature's budget. The Legislature needs three-fourths of its members to override any of the line-item vetoes approved by the governor.

The House minority, consisting of 15 members, has generally been in lockstep with the governor over spending reductions. Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, suggested his caucus would not support overriding any of the governor's vetoes.

“If our caucus does decide to revisit any of the governor’s reductions, we will do that through the capital budget or a supplemental budget, and not through the process of veto override," wrote Pruitt in a prepared statement.

Copyright 2019 KTUU. All rights reserved.



 
Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station. powered by Disqus