State House lacks votes to call special session to override governor budget vetoes

State House lacks votes to call special session to override governor budget vetoes
Published: Jun. 27, 2023 at 3:24 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska House will not open a special legislative session due to a lack of support, essentially letting the governor’s line-item vetoes stand for now.

Houser Speaker Cathy Tilton, a Wasilla Republican, said the decision was made after polling House members and discovering there was not enough support for it.

The news comes a week after Gov. Mike Dunleavy signed the Fiscal Year 2024 budget with multiple line-item vetoes, slashing hundreds of millions of dollars from the final budget.

Included in Dunleavy’s vetoes were millions of dollars that would have gone to raise the minimum funding for student costs statewide, as well as school infrastructure projects. Dr. Jharrett Bryantt, superintendent of the state’s largest school district, called the vetoes “extremely” disappointing as the Anchorage School District still faces a budget deficit of roughly $90 million.

In a letter to the Anchorage-based legislators on Friday, Bryantt and School Board President Margo Bellamy called for a special legislative session. In the letter, they said the lack of funds could lead to halting hiring and layoffs.

Tilton said Tuesday that she spoke with members of the House to find out if there was support to override those line item vetos, but says those in favor of an override came up short.

“I had already talked with the members, and there are not the numbers to call ourselves into a special session,” Tilton said. “That takes two-thirds of the membership, and there just weren’t the numbers of people willing to call a special session.”

Tilton said it was still possible for an executive session to be called by the House if circumstances changed.