Happy 4th of July! I hope everyone had a good one. The weather in Southcentral was not bad, and judging by the photos, the weather in Juneau and much of the state looked great. A few significant things happened this week. The House was able to get their effective date issue resolved just a few days before July 1, averting a government shutdown. And Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson was officially sworn in on July 1. Because of the holiday, the column will be a bit shorter than normal this week.
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Week in Review
The big news in Juneau was the House was able to muster the votes to be able to pass an immediate effective date for the budget. It got loose for a while when it was apparent the majority and minority did not have an exact deal. In the end the minority gave the votes for the effective date in exchange for a commitment for a working group on a long term fiscal plan. The working group will most likely be composed of two members from each caucus, so eight total. The idea is to get to some kind of comprehensive plan or grand bargain in the August special session. But the likelihood of such an undertaking is not great. In fact, many in the Legislature and even some in the administration are pushing for the special session to be moved to September or October. With more tourists coming to Juneau and everyone wanting to enjoy summer, odds are good it will be moved. Keep in mind the House and Senate both failed to pass the 3/4 vote for the reverse sweep and the Constitutional Budget Reserve draw. And now that Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska) vetoed the $525 dividend the Legislature did approve, there will be a desire to get that fixed. My bet is the special session gets moved to September.
Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson was officially sworn in on Thursday (July 1) morning. He then held a press conference at City Hall. He announced four directives including a weird one declaring Anchorage a “Second Amendment sanctuary city.” Bronson’s Chief of Staff Craig Campbell announced that he had resigned from the Alaska Railroad board of directors. This came in response to a question I asked about the Municipality’s intervention on behalf of the Flying Crown, who the Railroad sued last year over a land title issue. You can read more about that here.
Mayor Bronson press conference starting at City Hall. They handed out 4 directives. A second amendment sanctuary city, a task force on regulatory reform, a revised COVID policy, and economic recovery. pic.twitter.com/KFmxczA0SH
— The Alaska Landmine (@alaskalandmine) July 1, 2021
Bronson then held a big block party at the Park Strip on Thursday evening. There was a live band, food trucks, and a beer garden! It was pretty lit.
Mayor Bronson inauguration party at the Park Strip is lit! pic.twitter.com/r9RdFX43YW
— The Alaska Landmine (@alaskalandmine) July 2, 2021
Governor Dunleavy held a press conference in Anchorage on Thursday to announce his budget vetoes. More on that in the Loose Unit section.
Mike Barnhill, deputy commissioner of the Department of Revenue, is taking a sabbatical from the State of Alaska. Barnhill has been with the state for over twenty years. He has been a big asset to the Dunleavy administration on pitching Dunleavy’s 50/50 Permanent Fund plan to the Legislature. He has served in several state positions including acting revenue commissioner and assistant attorney general with the Department of Law. He’s one smart cat. His departure is going to be a big loss for the administration.
This Week’s Loose Unit
This week’s designee might be the most glaring Loose Unit since the weekly Loose Unit started in January of 2018. This week’s Loose Unit is a shared between Neil Steininger and Caroline Schultz. Steininger is the director for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Schultz is the chief policy analyst. These two are the faces of OMB in the Capitol. If you are reading this you are probably aware of the $4 billion fuck up that was made in regards to budget vetoes. The version of the budget that Dunleavy signed in Anchorage and sent to Juneau left out the veto of the $4 billion transfer from the earnings reserve of the Permanent Fund to the corpus. Maximum loose. This was pointed out to me on Friday afternoon.
Oh my holy god. @GovDunleavy forgot to veto the $4 billion transfer from the earnings reserve to the corpus in the transmitted budget. The veto shows in the mockup from OMB, but not in the actual budget signed and sent to the Legislature. This is maximum loose. #akleg pic.twitter.com/p8a4ZWHQjF
— The Alaska Landmine (@alaskalandmine) July 2, 2021
Dunleavy specifically mentioned this veto at the press conference on Thursday. He stated, ““There was a decision by the Legislature to move billions of dollars from the earnings reserve of the Permanent Fund into the corpus of the Permanent Fund. We stopped that from happening with a veto. We want to be able to have the greater conversation with the Legislature here in a month to come up with a compressive approach to dealing with the Permanent Fund. And so we see this money as part of the discussion.” Super loose. But it gets even looser. Dunleavy’s office then came out and said it was an error which had been corrected. But the Legislature is saying the signed version of the budget without the veto stands. The signed budget on the Legislature’s website still shows the $4 billion not crossed out. And it gets even looser! This page of the budget missing the veto, page 138, was actually the second version of that page. In the first version, they forgot to leave $8.5 million from the vetoed dividend. This money is the for the salaries of employees of the Permanent Fund Dividend Division. You can see it is there in the signed version and the $4 billion transfer is not crossed off. So, in either version there is an error. Talk about loose!
If you have a nomination for this week’s Loose Unit, or if you have any political news, stories or gossip (or any old pics of politicians or public officials) please email me at [email protected]