The vote has now been taken. The die is cast. The cabal of legislators controlling the Alaska State House have chosen to make spending the PFD (and the power that access to that money gives them) their number one goal this year. Everything else comes in at a distant second place, if it even makes the list.
The Constitution? Legislative procedure? Integrity? These things went out the window today.
Reducing crime? Crime doesn’t event make the list currently.
What crime? According to the legislators controlling what happens in the House, SB91 is working. For the first 87 days of session, the governor’s crime bills have been largely ignored.
In their efforts to use the dividend to prop up excessive state spending for another couple years, House Democrats have even given up on defending “abortion rights”, which they normally treat as a sacred right. House Democrats voted two times today to pass a budget that specifically forbids spending state money on abortions.
Not long ago, legislators joined Governor Walker in arguing that they could veto or cut the dividend because it was a budget item. Today, they passed an amended version of Walker’s budget without even permitting the dividend to be included, giving first priority to every single item in a multi-billion-dollar budget, over payment of the dividend.
On Monday afternoon, they declared publicly through their speaker, that the amendments to ensure a full PFD this year, and to pay back withheld dividends from each of the last three years, would receive as much time as they needed during the budget debate.
How much time did they actually receive? 0.0 seconds.
After promising repeatedly that legislators would be given every opportunity to debate these amendments, every attempt to debate them was denied outright. Legislators were denied even an opportunity to discuss them, much less vote on them.
23 legislators today voted to make that declaration on Monday a lie. They will have to live with that, and with the many other priorities they chose to sacrifice today.
Sure, they’ll almost certainly vote to allow a dividend at some point (likely after they’ve tried to extract concessions from the governor, who they know supports the dividend and will fight for it).
But the course these 23 legislators are on today, is for Alaskans to receive a dividend of “whatever’s left” after we spend the people’s money on everything else first.
Green are the ones who voted to honor the right of the people to debate and vote on the PFD and each of the other budget amendments.
Please thank them for their service.
*The initial version of this story included the scoreboard for the passage of the budget itself, rather than the debate on amendments that was promised to the public.