Growing consensus supports PCE, education programs

Speaker of the House Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, thanked the House Minority on Tuesday, Aug. 3, for their support of funding Power Cost Equalization, the UA Scholars Program and the WWAMI Regional Medical Education Program.

All three programs are among those defunded in the current budget because of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s assertion that they are subject to a super-majority vote of the Legislature, which so far has failed to pass despite unanimous support from the Alaska House Coalition.

Stutes expressed her gratitude to the House Minority for continuing to work with the House Coalition “toward a solution to Alaska’s structural deficit and to the immediate budget decisions we will face when we return to Juneau later this month.”

“I am especially encouraged to see the minority leader and others in her caucus acknowledge the outcry of Alaskans who expect to see full funding for Power Cost Equalization, scholarships that provide an incentive for our best and brightest students to launch their careers here and the only program that trains doctors in our state,” Stutes said.

When Dunleavy called the third special session, he restricted lawmakers from voting on any of these items or providing for a Permanent Fund dividend.

Stutes said she is hopeful that the House Minority’s comments indicate a willingness for lawmakers to establish a special session call of its own “so that the PFD and programs vital to our state’s economic recovery will no longer continue to hang in the balance.”