Gov. Mike Dunleavy's budget vetoes may leave Alaskans in the lurch during the pandemic. That’s the message from Alaska House District 38 Rep. Tiffany Zulkoksy.
Gov. Dunleavy vetoed funding for a variety of programs, including money for rural schools, the Quinhagak airport, maintenance of the ice road, and $30 million dollars in Medicaid funding. Dunleavy says that he plans to use federal CARES Act funding to pay for many of these programs, but Zulkosky said that she doesn’t think that’s going to work.
“The funding passed under the CARES Act has strict guardrails as to what it can and cannot be used for; that funding has to be used directly for COVID-19 response. So if the governor is not able to backfill vetoed funding, he will ultimately have endangered the state’s ability to provide essential state services at a time when Alaskans are relying on it now more than ever,” said Zulkosky.
Zulkosky suggested that the rules surrounding the CARES Act indicate that if the funds are spent inappropriately, the state may end up having the pay the federal government back.
“If it’s found that Alaska is not using these funds in the right way,” Zulkosky said, “the state would ultimately have to repay those funds to the federal government. So, you know, not only does it threaten the viability of programs, it could also mean returning funds to the federal government.”
Zulkosky remains stuck in Juneau, sheltering in place and waiting to see when it will be safe to travel back home to Bethel.