Legislators in Wasilla Neglect Their Duties and Turn Their Backs on Alaska’s Future
JUNEAU – Today, in a joint special session, the Alaska State Legislature was unable to override the Governor's vetoes with 22 legislators staying put in Wasilla leaving the $444 million in budget vetoes in place. In a final vote of 37 to 1, Alaska state legislators failed to override the harmful cuts made by the governor in Medicaid funding, education funding, senior programs, and community assistance.
“The 22 legislators in Wasilla have turned their backs on the people of Alaska and left them without the essential programs and resources residents have come to rely on,” said Jessica Cler, Alaska State Director at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii. “Governor Dunleavy and the legislators who failed to lead are destroying this state, taking us backwards, and leaving us in a position for economic crisis. The future of Alaska is in grave danger. Over the past month, Alaskans have asked their elected leaders to protect our resources, services, and the future of Alaska and override these vetoes, but they couldn’t get the job done. Alaskans will not forget today’s lack of leadership and just as we have the power to elect our representatives, we have the power to take it away.”
Reps. Lance Pruitt, Ben Carpenter, David Eastman, Sharon Jackson, Kelly Merrick, Mark Neuman, Sara Rasmussen, George Rauscher, Josh Revak, Laddie Shaw, Colleen Sullivan-Leonard, Dave Talerico, Cathy Tilton, Sarah Vance, Gabrielle LeDoux, DeLena Johnson, and Sens. Mia Costello, Shelley Hughes, Lora Reinbold, Mike Shower, David Wilson, and Peter Micciche made the decision to dodge the vote and leave Alaskans with the devastating impacts in cuts across the board, including health care, public safety, and senior benefit programs. Rep. Tammie Wilson travelled back to Juneau to vote against the overrides, making her the only “nay” vote in the capitol building.
These vetoes will take away lifesaving health care from thousands of Alaskans, including children, elderly, and people with disabilities. Most of Alaska's health care providers — rural hospitals, community health centers and children's hospitals rely on Medicaid funds and these cuts have the potential to upend the entire health care network. The cuts to early learning programs, K-12 public education, and the University of Alaska, along with programs to address homelessness and domestic violence will have a lasting impact for generations. Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest commends the 37 legislators present in Juneau who voted to override the vetoes and spoke passionately about the Alaska they would like to see in the future.