A resolution urging Gov. Mike Dunleavy to sign a bill that would reverse most of his operating budget vetoes failed at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Tuesday night. House Bill 2001, which the state Legislature passed at the end of July, would also set the permanent fund dividend amount at $1,600.
Assembly member Willy Dunne was a co-sponsor of the resolution encouraging the governor to sign the bill as passed by the state Legislature. He said the governor’s cuts would do significant harm to a wide range of programs in the borough from Kachemak Bay Campus to addiction treatment and recovery services to senior benefits.
“The Homer Senior Center has reported that there are 13 senior citizens in the senior center right now that are slated for eviction because they cannot afford to pay their rent because their senior assistance has been withheld,” he said.
He and assembly member Hal Smalley argued that it was the Legislature’s responsibility to figure out how to fund these services.
“That’s their job,” he said. “They need to do their job. What this is a communication from our body to the Legislature and the governor saying that we are in support of the funds that the Legislature returned to the budget.”
But assembly member Paul Fisher argued against the resolution.
“What they want to do is take the bill that’s currently talked about and fund it with without any source of revenue to fund it,” he said.
Rep. Ben Carpenter of Nikiski also spoke out at the meeting and expressed similar concerns.
“So I would ask you that if you're going to communicate on behalf of the members of this borough that we actually have a solution in mind that we're recommending the governor do," he said. “Right now, this is just playing politics. I would remind you that the governor was overwhelmingly elected from this borough. Elected to do exactly what he said he was going to do and what he is doing now.”
The resolution failed 6 to 3, with assembly members Dunne, Smalley and Kelly Cooper voting for it. House Bill 2001 is slated to go out to Dunleavy’s office Wednesday.