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June 15, 2021

Headlines:

FAKE NEWS COMES TO ALASKA! SAD!

Gov. Mike Dunleavy didn’t come out and call it “fake news” but he may as well have. In his journey down the Trump copycat trail, he’s now blaming the media as a convenient excuse to not have to answer uncomfortable questions. Here’s the headline that got the governor’s nose out of joint.

He said it was inaccurate. He would have preferred a headline that read:

“The legislature chose that $1600 value of the Permanent Fund Dividend and he decided not to veto it.”

And for the want of that awkward headline, he’s decided not to talk to the press anymore.

Interestingly, he also put out a statement on Facebook which might be the first time the governor has come out and admitted that he has no authority to set the amount of the dividend. It’s funny because Candidate Dunleavy sure banked a lot of votes with big promises of a $6700 dividend he knew he couldn’t deliver. If he’d been straight with voters instead of letting them believe he had a magic PFD wand, we might not be in this mess. SAD!

Back in the early days of the administration, then-Chief of Staff Tuckerman Babcock told us that we wouldn’t be hearing too much from the governor. Babcock may have been demoted, but his philosophy remains. We’re now being prepped for the use of “major video announcements” instead of actual press availabilities to give us the news. This way the governor doesn’t have to worry about those pesky questions, and even peskier follow-up questions that have sometimes resulted in that classic deer-in-the-headlights look we’ve come to know, and/or a bunch of boilerplate non-answers.

Freshman Sarah Vance (R-Homer) is right on board the FakeNews train. She’s actually telling her constituents not to believe the press, but only what the government tells you. Mike Dunleavy’s mouth should be “your source of facts and good information.” Rep. Vance is apparently not a fan of studying history, or propaganda, or the reason for the fourth estate. Or maybe she is, which would be even worse.

What we have learned directly from the governor in the last couple days isn’t pretty. The administration is hoping, no doubt, that everyone is going to be focused on the handful of programs that have not been re-vetoed, and they won’t bother to think about the fact that most of the vetoes still stand, and even the ones that were overturned have caused immeasurable heartache and suffering to a lot of people. And, the governor has announced there are plenty more cuts to come.

 

 

 

CHOP, CHOP, CHOP!

So, what’s still on the chopping block – and what does it mean?

THE COURT SYSTEM: “I am literally helping the recall effort against me!”

In a brazen move, the governor continues to thumb his nose at the separation of powers, and left the $335,000 cut to the Alaska Court System because he didn’t like the fact that the Alaska Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of abortion. Alaska, as it should be noted, upheld that constitutional right under the privacy clause three years before Roe v. Wade. So, the decision from the Supreme Court was absolutely right on the money. And this veto may be the strongest ground for the recall currently underway. The double-down will only strengthen that effort.

SCHOOL BOND DEBT REIMBURSEMENT: “I will never raise taxes until I raise your taxes!”

Don’t glaze over! It sounds wonky but it’s pretty simple. Normally the state pays a large portion of school bonds approved by voters in local elections. Now, the state has pulled out the rug and left local governments on the hook for all the money for new roofs, etc. So, to come up with that money, local governments will likely have to raise taxes. BUT, some local areas have tax caps that they can’t exceed. So, THEY will likely be forced to make cuts to services. What does this means to places like… oh, let’s pick Dunleavy’s home territory the Mat-Su Valley for an example. For every $100,000 in assessed home value, folks in the Mat-Su are likely going to see an increased tax bill for $112. That means a $300,000 home = $336 more in taxes every year. The Never-Taxers are not going to like it. But they’re going to get it none the less.

DENTAL CARE“Let’s pay lots of money to study what we can’t afford!”

Then we have adult dental care covered by Medicaid. GONE. The governor and Outside Budget Director Donna Arduin decided that Alaska just can’t afford to continue that program that we’ve had for the past 13 years which helps people keep their teeth. “We have not done research as to what the results may be if Alaska Medicaid recipients do not receive dental care. We have not done any type of research on that,” says the Deputy Commissioner of Health. Ok… I guess we’ll find out when Dunleavy’s brand new “Dental Director” studies it over the next three years for 20 hours a month with a $225,000 salary package that will see this person making $300 an hour. This new hire will be “identifying the gaps” that the governor literally just created by cutting the program he says we can’t afford.

PUBLIC RADIO“Tune in for lifesaving information on the radio station I just gutted!”

He’s cut $2.7 million in state funding for public broadcasting. And with this cut comes a loss of federal revenue across the state to all stations. The cuts for some local radio stations (like Homer, Kodiak, and Ketchikan) actually jeopardize the ENTIRE amount of federal funding they receive. Many have noted the irony of this considering that the governor addressed those in harm’s way due to the raging wildfires consuming much of Southcentral Alaska and told them to tune in to their local radio stations for emergency information ON THE SAME DAY HE CUT FUNDS TO THOSE STATIONS.

NOME YOUTH FACILITY AND VPSOs “I will be a friend to rural Alaska until I get elected!”

Remember when newly-minted Governor Dunleavy wanted to hop on a snow machine and hold his inauguration in a remote village to symbolize his support of rural Alaska after he watched rural communities laud his predecessor Bill Walker at the AFN convention? And remember how he said his wife is Alaska Native and that he had taught in a rural school district, and how he was a ‘friend to rural Alaska?’ You may remember, but clearly the governor does not. He just re-cut $2 million in funding for the Nome Youth facility, killing 18 jobs, and forcing the youth to be relocated to cities far from home. He also cut the Village Public Safety Officer program by $3 million, and eliminated the transfer of $250,000 to fund a victim-centered analysis of sexual assault and domestic violence in rural Alaska and identify gaps in the current system. And while he was at it, he cut about $50,000 for rural airport maintenance. Just because.

THE FERRY SYSTEM“I have no plan to cut the ferry system at this time….. Ok, NOW I do!”

Back during the campaign, candidate Dunleavy gave one of his bob-and-weave answers to the question, “Do you have any plans to cut the ferry system?” “I have no plans at this time,” he said. Well that time is clearly over now that he’s in office. The legislature restored $5 million in cuts to the ferry system in response to the outcry from Alaskans, and common sense. But the restoration of that money didn’t stand the second round of the red pen. At this point, Alaskans all along the Alaska Marine Highway System are looking at being literally stranded this winter, unless they can fly. This is clearly not a re-election strategy, but a privatization strategy. What the real end-game is for the governor remains to be seen. The massive cuts to the ferries fly in the face of the governor’s sudden proclamation earlier this week about “listening to the people” and restoring some of the vetoes. If he’s listening to the people, it’s sure not the people in coastal Alaska.

THIS AND THAT – “Only take from those in need”

Just for good measure, the governor again ran the red Sharpie through $50 million from health care for low-income and disabled people, $6 million for behavioral health treatment and recovery, $7.5 from public assistance to blind, disabled, and needy elderly Alaskans, over $500,000 from the Public Defenders’ office for poor people who can’t afford to hire a lawyer, $250,000 from the Civil Air Patrol which conducts search and rescue missions, and another $30 million in community assistance to local communities.

So let’s recap: Dunleavy did very bad things to many Alaskans. He faced unbelievable backlash from across the political and economic spectrum, and a massive state-wide recall effort. He rolled back a couple high-profile vetoes, and asked us to thank him. He left most of the bad things in place, and promises many more bad things to come next year.

 

 

THE SOLUTION:

The solution to all this, of course, is… (here comes the broken record) OIL TAX REFORM. But thankfully instead of just listening to me vent about it in the latest TALL TALES, there’s something finally being done! Keep your signature hand limbered up for this one.

First, you should immediately go HERE and sign up for emails, and join the Facebook group so you get updates and information. If successful this initiative will fill the current budget gap, and give us enough money for:

1)   A full statutory PFD to boost the local economy and lift 20,000+ Alaskans out of poverty

2)   Adequately-funded essential state programs and services like the ones above so Alaska remains a great place to live

3)   Ensuring that Alaska is still (even with the proposed changes) the most profitable oil jurisdiction on the planet for the companies who work here.

And yes, Gov. Dunleavy has already given a sole-source contract to his budget buddy Ed King to study just why we can’t possibly take a penny from the oil industry and that we simply must cut. Oh, and “no taxes.”  Also, Kara Moriarty from the Alaska Oil and Gas Association says that there’s no WAY the oil industry can survive this devastating small cut to their enormous profits!!!

The oil industry thinking about Alaska still being the most profitable place in the world for them to do business…

only by not quite as much.

 

There’s no telling when the governor’s dwindling base of support is going to realize that no taxes is not an option. Those taxes are either going to fall on the backs of the wealthiest corporations on the planet, or on us. We pick. Hopefully we will pick wisely.

 

*This article is reposted with permission from the Alaska Democratic Party

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One Response to “FAKE NEWS COMES TO ALASKA! SAD!”
  1. Ginger says:

    So, what do we believe? The exact words of Dunleavy or the exact reporting of the media?

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