NPA letter to Alaska’s Legislature: Finish the budget, reverse-the-sweep, and override the Governor’s vetoes.

Bolded verbiage are links.
On August 17, 2021, Native Peoples Action sent a letter to the Alaska State Legislature urging elected leaders to do what is needed for Alaskans right now: finish the budget, reverse-the-sweep and override the Governor’s vetoes.

What is happening:
The Alaska Legislature has been called back to a third special session in Juneau, Alaska as of August 16 at 2PM AKST. They have been tasked by Governor Dunleavy to consider the proposed Alaska State Budget, the Alaska Permanent Fund, and the Power Cost Equalization program. Many of the essential programs and services will remain unfunded if the budget is not completed or approved. Additionally, these services and programs will remain unfunded until the reverse-sweep has been accomplished and the Governor’s vetoes have been over-ridden.

How this affects Alaskans:
Many of these programs and services directly impact our relatives in Tribal communities. Programs and services on the line include the Permanent Fund Dividend, medicaid program, public health nursing, the Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Act, Alaska Performance Scholarship and Alaska Education Grant, School Debt Reimbursement, Community Assistance, Foster Care Services and more. See our letter to the Alaska Legislature for a more extensive breakdown of specific programs and services that remain unfunded.

NPA will continue to keep Alaskans informed on where we can activate and mobilize to make sure our relatives are taken care of, the Alaska legislative members do what they were elected to do, and to ensure these programs and services are funded.

⬇️ Let’s breakdown some terms:

Alaska state budget: Lawmakers and public officials are elected in part to manage the state’s finances. This includes generating revenues (money coming into the state from various sources) and approving expenditures (the money spent on governmental functions and servicing state debt). The Alaska Budget is flexible and can ebb and flow from year-to-year as it depends on anticipated revenues (making money) and planned expenditures (what the state would have to spend money on). Learn more here.

Reverse-the-sweep: The state of Alaska has dozens of savings accounts that are designated to fund specific programs for Alaska. In 1990, voters approved a constitutional amendment that requires each of those accounts to be drained at the end of the fiscal year and deposited into the Constitutional Budget Reserve. Every year, the Legislature designs the state budget to use the savings accounts but a majority 3/4 vote in the Alaska House of Representatives and Alaska Senate is needed. This 3/4 vote to essentially reinstate the money designated for each program is called the reverse-sweep or the action of “reverse-the-sweep.” Until this is completed, no new agreements can be made (pertaining to those funds) and no new contracts can be signed (that would pay these contractors from these funds).

Legislative special session: In 36 states (including Alaska), the legislature or governor can call a special session different from the regularly scheduled annual legislative session. These special sessions can take place whenever but may be limited in length. The legislature may only debate the specific legislative priorities outlined when he special session was called. Legislative members are compensated for their time during all sessions.

Veto: A constitutional right to reject a decision or proposal made by a law-making body. The Governor can veto budget items proposed by the Alaska Legislature.

Over-ride the vetoes: The Alaska legislature can vote to over-ride the vetoes by the Governor. In order to over-ride the vetoes, the Alaska legislature needs to reach a 3/4 vote.