School Bill On Way To Gov; Veto Ahead?

Alaska Beacon
    A bill increasing state funding for public schools is on its way to Gov. Mike Dunleavy, but the governor issued a statement Monday indicating that he may veto it, and it isn’t clear whether the Alaska Legislature has enough votes to override a veto.
    With an 18-1 vote Monday, the Alaska Senate agreed to the state House version of Senate Bill 140, a multi-part bill that would increase public school funding by more than $246 million per year. The House voted 38-2 to approve it on Thursday night.
    The bill is significantly different from a Dunleavy-backed version that lacked the votes to pass. One key missing component: A governor-proposed plan to offer cash bonuses to certified teachers. That idea failed by a single vote in the House.
    “My initial review of the education bill is that it falls far short of improving outcomes for students,” the governor said in a statement posted online.
    If the governor does veto the bill, the Alaska Constitution instructs legislators to meet in a joint session of the House and Senate within five days to either override or sustain the veto.
    Votes from 40 of the Legislature’s 60 members would be needed for an override, otherwise, the veto stands.
    Although the combined vote on SB 140 was 56-3, some lawmakers who voted in favor of the bill said they are prepared to sustain a gubernatorial veto. Others said they aren’t sure.
    “The ball’s going to be in his court after this vote,” said Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, shortly before voting for SB 140 on Monday.
    But before her vote, Hughes made it clear: If the governor vetoes the bill, she will vote to sustain that veto.
    She supports the governor’s proposals, she said, and “if he decides to play hardball, I will be on his team.”
    Republican members of the House and Senate have previously chosen to play “hardball” on the governor’s side, even on bills and items they previously supported.
    Last year, Dunleavy vetoed two policy bills — one dealing with firefighting foam, the other with e-bikes — that the Legislature passed by wide margins. Lawmakers declined to hold override votes on both.
    Earlier this year, Republican opposition doomed an attempt to override line-item budget vetoes. Among those voting to sustain the governor’s vetoes were lawmakers who had voted to pass the Legislature in the first place.
    Asked on Monday whether they would vote to override a hypothetical veto of SB 140, several Republican members of the House said they didn’t know.
    “I’d consider it,” said Rep. Stanley Wright, R-Anchorage.
    Wright’s amendment to SB 140 included a $640 increase to the base student allocation, a key component of the state’s public-school funding formula.
    If Dunleavy were to veto the bill, Wright said he’d want to know why — is it just for budget reasons? Does he have another plan?
    Rep. Julie Coulombe, R-Anchorage, said she’d have to “wait and see” whether she would vote for a veto override.
    Rep. Laddie Shaw, R-Anchorage, joked about the issue when asked whether he would vote to override.
    “That’s something my wife asked me this morning, and I said, ‘Hi, what do you think about the weather?’”

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April 2004

Photo caption: Grace Larson holds one of the Easter breads she baked for sale at the annual Rainy Day Bazaar Saturday at Centennial Hall. Hundreds turned out for the event, sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard Spouses and Women’s Association.


April 1974

All youngsters from walking age on up to age 12 are invited to an Easter egg hunt Sunday. Ages 5 and under meet at the Centennial Building; ages 6-9 in front of the visitor center at Totem Park; and ages 10-12 at Totem Park. Some $150 in cash and merchandise prizes will be offered.


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