Lawmakers voted to override Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s $444 million in budget vetoes in a 37-1 vote, but not enough lawmakers were present in one location to overturn them.
The law requires 45 legislators for an override, and only 38 showed up in Juneau for a special joint session. The rest were in Wasilla, aligned with Dunleavy, or absent.
Lawmakers from both political parties argued passionately against the budget vetoes. Sen. Lyman Hoffman and Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, both Bethel Democrats from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, were in Juneau. Both voted against Dunleavy’s vetoes. Hoffman said that the legislature had already reduced the budget by more than $1 billion.
"The vetoes that this governor has represented in his goal to streamline government are ill-advised," Hoffman said.
Hoffman is also the new Senate Majority Leader after Senate President Cathy Giessel stripped Sen. Mia Costello, an Anchorage Republican, of that title when she failed to show up in Juneau this week. Hoffman also took Costello’s place on the Rules Committee and the Committee on Committees.
Tiffany Zulkosky, from the House majority, says that her constituents have among the state’s lowest incomes and highest costs of living per capita.
"It has been said the budget is a moral document. I find the budget vetoes totally unconscionable, as had been said earlier today, and I am very proud today to vote to override the governor’s damaging vetoes," Zulkosky said.
The Legislature has until Friday to override the governor, but it’s unclear if enough lawmakers will be in one place to make that decision.
Hear the full public testimoney from Sen. Hoffman and Rep. Zulkosky below.