Republican Leadership Caves—No Stimulus, No PFD Backpay, State Govt Now Gets 78% (22% for PFD)

(Republican Leadership Capitulates Just 48 hours after promising to protect the people)

Early this morning, the Alaska Legislature passed HB205, the State’s Operating Budget.

Highlights:

  • The $1,000 stimulus payment for every Alaskan was removed.
  • PFD backpay ($5,044/per Alaskan) was not included.
  • That same amount ($5 billion) was instead moved into the corpus of the Permanent Fund to support future government spending (through HB205 and HB234).
  • Instead of the historic 50/50 split between the PFD and government, more than 78% of Permanent Fund Earnings have been earmarked for state government this year.
  • While state income is currently down in every category, state spending this year has skyrocketed.
  • A very small portion of the budget ($88 million) has been earmarked for coronavirus response.
  • With this budget, our state’s constitutional savings account (which once held $14 billion), now has less than $500 million, and is pretty much depleted.

The most important vote tonight, and perhaps of the whole year, was the vote by Republicans to spend down our state’s savings account, the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR).

On Thursday, Republicans in the House Minority issued a press release in which they reiterated their commitment to not spending from the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR): “House Republicans Announce Commitment to Protect Constitutional Budget Reserve, Save for the Future.”

Of the 15 members who voiced that commitment on Thursday, only four actually voted against spending from the Constitutional Budget Reserve this morning.

The day before the press release, I had pointed out: “About the only thing they haven’t surrendered on this year would be this year’s CBR Reverse Sweep.” I suggested that “Surrender Caucus” might be a more appropriate name given their leadership’s abysmal track record in following through on such commitments.

It was also remarkable that a majority of Republicans publicly opposed the bill, and that a majority of Republicans then also voted to provide the money for it (huh?).

Yes, you read that right. Moments after publicly voting against the bill, Republicans voted for billions in taxpayer dollars to fund the very things they had just voted against.

Bottom Line: When you can predict their surrender even before they issue the press release committing not to, it’s really time for new leadership. In fact, new leadership probably isn’t going to be enough at this point.

While most legislators from the Mat-Su Valley held together when this vote took place last year, this year my senator (Mike Shower) and I were the only two “No” votes from the Mat-Su (Neuman, Rauscher and Hughes did not take part in this year’s vote).

Once you’ve trained an entire institution that conservative legislators, as a group, are feckless and will roll over on command, you’ve successfully undermined every future opportunity to negotiate for conservative policy. Is it any wonder that conservatives have so few policy achievements they can point to in Juneau?

Conservatives need a reset. It’s time to start rebuilding from the ground up. When voters do their part and elect Republican majorities, year after year, and this is all they have to show for it—someone’s getting jyped!

(Republicans cave and vote to spend the CBR after promising not to 48-hours earlier – 3/29/2020)

Those who voted to fund the Operating Budget with the Constitutional Budget Reserve – Shown in Green

Those who kept their word to protect the Constitutional Budget Reserve – Shown in Red Above

Those not present for the vote – Shown in Yellow Above

(Shower stands alone as Republicans cave and vote to spend the Constitutional budget reserve)

Those who voted to fund the Operating Budget with the Constitutional Budget Reserve – Shown in Green

Those who voted to protect the Constitutional Budget Reserve – Shown in Red

Those not present for the vote – Shown in Yellow

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