Governor Dunleavy Holds Statewide Roadshow to Outline Permanent Fiscal Plan for Alaska
Senate Democratic Leader Says Governor's Townhalls are Private & Paid for by Multi-Billionaire Special Interests
By MARY KAUFFMAN
March 21, 2019
“We are at a pivotal point in Alaska’s history, a once in a generation moment where we must begin making the tough decisions to put our state on a path towards a permanent fiscal plan,” said Governor Dunleavy. “One thing is clear, in order to be successful, we must have the engagement and support of the Alaskan people. Alaskans overwhelmingly spoke during the last election cycle, and chose a government that would protect the PFD, fix our unsustainable spending, and put an end to the ‘nothing is too important to reform’ type attitude. Regardless of where this path takes us, Alaskans must buy into the decisions being made in Juneau. To that end, we’re excited to announce a series of meetings, events and gatherings to further engage the Alaskan people. These presentations will outline our vision for Alaska, take an in-depth look into the direction we’re headed, and further lay our proposals out in the open. As we surpass the 60th day of Legislature, it’s important that Alaskans fully understand where we’re headed. Will Legislators once again take the PFD from Alaskans in order to pay for a government we can no longer afford? Will politicians in Juneau recklessly spend down the last of our savings? Will Alaskans be saddled with billion-dollar taxes? All of these details and discussions are critical to the process. My view, if the Legislature wants to continue down this unsustainable path and further lock in the status quo, it must be put to a vote of the people. Doing anything different would fly in the face of the electorate and further exasperate the state’s fiscal challenges.”
Governor Dunleavy and members of his team will embark upon a journey across the state to provide Alaskans the opportunity to hear directly the Governor’s proposal for a permanent fiscal plan. Joining Governor Dunleavy will be Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, Commissioner of Revenue Bruce Tangeman, OMB Director Donna Arduin, and Deputy Chief of Staff Jeremy Price.
Events will take place in Kenai/ Soldotna, Anchorage, Nome, Fairbanks, and the Mat-Su Valley. In addition to public events, the Governor will meet with stakeholder groups and sit directly with Alaska media to bring these discussions to the forefront.
“The first leg of the Governor’s roadshow includes a number of meetings, events, media interviews and community-based discussions in partnership with groups and organizations from across the state,” said Press Secretary Matt Shuckerow yesterday.“These presentations – the first of many – all focus on the tough discussions ahead, our state’s undeniable fiscal challenges, and exactly how the governor intends to let Alaskans determine their own future. We look forward to these discussion over the next few months and encourage Alaskans to participate in our radio interviews and to attend any one of our open to the public events.”
Yesterday, Senator Donny Olson (D-Golovin) sent a letter to Governor Dunleavy (pdf) expressing concern about holding such private town halls. According to Olson, the 415-word terms and conditions on the Americans for Prosperity website demanded Alaskans give up constitutional rights to attend or they will be asked to leave. In response, Senator Olson has offered to personally pay for the use of Old St. Joe's in Nome for the March 27 event to allow for the public at large to attend and voice their concerns without stipulations placed on them.
"This budget impacts all Alaskans, but disproportionately in my region of the state. My constituents are outraged that Governor Dunleavy is using public resources announcing an event to promote American's for Prosperity's political agenda," said Sen. Olson. "I am providing this opportunity for Governor Dunleavy to leave Americans for Prosperity's political propaganda behind and hear from all Alaskans, no matter their political background or stance on his agenda. I hope the Governor will take me up on this offer."
The letter was hand delivered to Governor Dunleavy's office in the Capitol Wednesday morning.
“From discussions on our fiscal future to debates on whether the PFD belongs to the people or to politicians, the governor believes Alaskans need to play a critical role in these once in a generation decisions,” said Press Secretary Matt Shuckerow.“We encourage Alaskans to join the conversation, take part in a variety of events and let lawmakers know where you stand on these critical issues. The governor’s message has been clear, if we’re going to use the PFD to cover the costs of state government, it should be approved by a vote of the people.”
On March 19, 2019, according to a news release form the Senate Democratic leader, details surfaced that the Governor's roadshow events are private and paid for by Americans for Prosperity - Alaska, which is founded and funded by the multi-billionaire Koch Brothers from Kansas. The organization announced these private events are "dedicated to discussing Americans for Prosperity's issues."
"On the campaign trail, then-candidate Dunleavy promoted restoring trust in government as one of his main themes for his administration. Now that he is governor, countless campaign promises continue to be broken. This represents one more failure of trust by Governor Dunleavy and his Administration," said Senator Tom Begich (D-Anchorage).
Begich said, "Holding private events to promote his anti-Alaska agenda, which is sponsored and paid for by special interests that are funded by radical outsiders, is not the Alaskan way. Alaska's governor should be open, transparent, and dedicated to serving Alaskans, not multi-billionaires from Kansas and their political agenda."
According to Senate Democrats, on the event website Americans for Prosperity provided a 415-word disclaimer on the terms and conditions of the event (pdf posted by Senate Democrats) which threatens Alaskans if they do not comply with their rules. If you don't follow these set rules, you will be denied admission or forced "to leave the event."
Americans for Prosperity-Alaska (AFP-AK) State Director Ryan McKee released the following statement: “We’re looking forward to traveling across the state and educating all Alaskans on how Juneau can curb its habit of wasteful spending through meaningful spending reform like implementing a spending cap and a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. We’re also excited to join Governor Dunleavy and his administration to highlight their plans to address the fiscal situation. This event is free and open to the public and we look forward to having a meaningful discussion on the issues facing Alaska.”
Also during this time, the Alaska House Finance Committee will be holding statewide operating budget hearings. It's said the Alaska House Finance Committee will be spending tens of thousands of state dollars to fly members around the state campaigning primarily for an increase in government spending. Rep. Colleen Sullivan-Leonard (R-Wasilla) called the House Finance Committee's travel expenditures plan irresponsible.
Representative Ben Carpenter (R-Nikiski), a member of the House Finance Committee, announced that he will be participating telephonically in the operating budget hearings being organized by the House Finance Committee around the state.
“Our state has invested a significant amount of resources into top-of-the-line teleconferencing equipment to allow people around Alaska to participate in the legislative process,” said Rep. Carpenter. “Rather than add my name to the long list of legislators traveling to these events at the taxpayers’ expense, I’ll be participating via our state’s teleconferencing system.”
“While I disagree with the amount of public money being spent to promote political agendas ahead of the governor’s events, Speaker Edgmon and the Majority do appear to have recognized the impracticality of Juneau for most legislative meetings,” Carpenter added. “If this is the Majority’s attempt to start moving the legislature to the road system, I’ll consider it money well spent.”
Carpenter also spoke on the pending initiative, Equal Access Alaska, which aims at moving the legislature to the road system.
“I’ll be supporting the pending initiative, should it be approved by the Lieutenant Governor, and I’m glad to know that so many of my colleagues are ready to support moving legislative business to the road system. The people have been denied access to the public process for too long.”
In addition to the Governor's schedule, the Office of Governor Michael J. Dunleavy announced today a series of radio spots highlighting statewide opportunities for the public to engage on the budget and the state’s fiscal crisis.
The three area-specific radio spots encourage participation and engagement in the Alaska House Majority’s upcoming field hearings, while also letting Alaskans know Governor Dunleavy and members of his budget and policy team will be visiting the area. The radio spots were placed by the Office of Governor Dunleavy in three markets – Kenai, Wasilla and Fairbanks – at a cost of approximately $9,000.
Location details for the Governor’s “Statewide Discussion for a Permanent Fiscal Plan” are as follows. Additional public events may be made available.
03/25/19 – Kenai Peninsula
03/26/19 – Anchorage
03/27/19 – Nome
03/28/19 – Fairbanks
03/29/19 – Fairbanks & Mat-Su
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