Borough Assembly Urges Legislature to Step Up, Pass the Budget

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly gave the legislature a nudge forward at an assembly regular meeting last night. It passed a resolution that urged the legislature to pass a “balanced” and “sustainable” state budget.

Borough Manager Michael Powers explained that Governor Walker’s office contacted all the members of the Alaska Municipal League, which includes many of the cities and boroughs in Alaska, and asked them to adopt the resolution.

Powers said he’d encourage the assembly to pass it.

“I try not to bring up my California experiences too much, but I will simply say having watched the legislature there for 15 years kick the can and punish the cities and counties, we need to do everything we can to hold the legislature here to their duty of adopting budgets that are long-term and sustainable.”

Mayor Jerrol Friend clarified that the assembly had passed the same resolution before, and Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner stated that, while she had voted for it the first time, she’s since decided she can’t support it.

“I think it really doesn’t say anything. It says take action, fix the problem at all costs, and the truth is I do care how the problem is fixed, and I do not want to send a message that – kind of an ambiguous, vague message to take some unidentified action.”

In late June, Governor Walker vetoed $1.29 billion from the budget the legislature attempted to pass, including a reduction to education funding by an extra $58.3 million. Assemblyman Larry LeDoux said he’s concerned about the governor’s recent vetoes and the financial toll they could take on the borough and the school district. He said the legislature needs to step up.

“I wish we were saying get off your ‘end,’ take care of these vetoes because they’re gonna really harm our community, and I resent, as I said, being a poker chip in a game right now with our students and our taxpayers.”

LeDoux said he doesn’t think the resolution says anything, but he doesn’t want to send a message of indifference.

Assemblyman Kyle Crow also said he’d support the resolution. He said he’s read letters to the editor from the governor and he sympathizes.

“One of the things that kind of resounded is he said a lot of these legislators are coming into his office and telling him we support you, but we can’t do so publicly. And there’s something wrong with that because it’s an election year. And so what we’re saying by supporting this really is we’re throwing in with the sound, fiscal, responsible, tough decisions that have to be made.”

The assembly voted to pass the resolution 6 to 1, with Skinner against. The legislature’s next special session begins Monday.

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