Five Minutes to Better Understand Vetos

Jul 8, 2019

10 days ago Governor Mike Dunleavy issued 168 vetos to items in the state’s operating budget, and 14 more to Mental Health appropriations. Since that time, the news media has reported a lot of information about which parts of the state government are affected, and how grants and private contracts will be cut. It can be pretty confusing if you aren’t familiar with government documents and the state’s website. 

It takes about five minutes or less to look at the veto documents and understand them better. If one starts on the governor’s Office of Management and Budget webpage … here’s the address: https://omb.alaska.gov/fiscal-year-2020-enacted-budget/. Then click where it says “Enacted Budget.” That will take you to a page full of links. The fourth one down and the sixth one down are where you could spend your five minutes.

The fourth one down is HB 39 Operating and HB 40 Mental Health Veto Summary. This is the governor’s chart, showing all 168 different veto actions. They are organized by state department, so a reader can quickly scroll through and find items of interest, perhaps K-12 education, or village airport snowplowing, or public broadcasting.

Back at the page of links, the sixth one down is HB 39 Operating Bill.

This shows the budget passed out of the legislature. And in each section, again, organized by state department, are the numbers the legislature voted on to fund the state. In some sections, the numbers are crossed out with a blue line, and new numbers are written above. This shows how the governor intended to reduce those areas.

If you have the governor’s veto chart, and the legislature’s budget bill side by side, you can imagine how the governor’s staff went through the documents to make them understandable.

Let’s take an example. If we were to look for Water Quality, in the governor’s veto chart, we zip to the Department of Environmental Conservation. It’s on page 2. There are wo items labeled “Water Quality Infrastructure.”

Over on the left side of the page, there is a column labeled "Page” and one labeled “Line.” Those are pages and lines in the budget document. The two Water Quality items are listed as being on Page 13, line 28.

We zip over the budget bill document, and there they are on Page 13. The legislature’s number of almost 23 million is crossed out and the governor’s number of a little more than 19 million is written above it.

Any item vetoed can be checked this way.