The Kodiak Chamber of Commerce took the unprecedented move of sending a letter to Alaska Legislators urging a vote to override Governor Mike Dunleavy’s sweeping line-item vetoes.
The Chamber, which works to develop an economically strong and diverse business community, seldom takes a stand on political issues.
The letter was mailed early yesterday afternoon according to Chamber Executive Director Sarah Phillips.
“The board of directors here at the Chamber of Commerce understand, obviously, the budget issues. It’s a very hot button topic here in all of Alaska. And we understand that there is no right answer. And we understand that there’s a need for a balance budget, however, the gravity of these vetoes with the budget situation is something that the board of directors felt strongly that we needed to reply to and confront.”
The letter says, “Kodiak is an island community that, due to its rural nature has always done more with less.”
It notes that the Chamber believes in fiscal responsibility and sustainability, but not at the expense of basic services.
“Part of that sustainability is funding things that Kodiak relies so heavily on like the Head Start program, university system, community assistance programs, Medicaid, senior benefits, our public broadcasting system, so thank you very much for what you guys do, and without those services Kodiak is going to feel the effects of these budget vetoes substantially.”
Phillips adds that 20 percent of the Chamber of Commerce membership will be directly impacted by the budget vetoes.
Add to that, this year’s federal government shutdown and the cut to local Coast Guard members’ Cost of Living Allowance, and Phillips says, the governor’s cuts are “too much,”