Hundreds attend a rally in front of the Capitol calling for an override of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget vetos on the first day of the Second Special Session of the Alaska Legislature in Juneau on Monday, July 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Hundreds attend a rally in front of the Capitol calling for an override of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget vetos on the first day of the Second Special Session of the Alaska Legislature in Juneau on Monday, July 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

“Override! Override! Override!’ Hundreds turn out in Juneau to protest Dunleavy’s vetoes

The response was overwhelming.

  • By Peter Segall Juneau Empire
  • Monday, July 8, 2019 10:02pm
  • NewsState News

Union members, students, teachers, community activists and all manner of concerned citizens gathered in front of the Alaska Capitol at noon Monday.

The rally was organized to protest the proposed $400 million in cuts made to government programs by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s vetoes of line items in the state budget. Protesters also called on state legislators to override at least some of those cuts.

“This is not where I want to be today,” said Emily Wall, professor of English at the University of Alaska Southeast. “But we’re all here fighting for our university. I’m very concerned about all the education cuts,” she said.

[Capitol Live: Senate and House leaders answer questions about action-packed first day of special session]

The rally was opened by drumming and singing by members of the Yees Ku Oo Dancers, a multicultural group with members from various backgrounds. The song, sung in the Tsimshian language, was written by troupe member Nancy Barnes, who performed at the rally.

“It’s just a happy song,” Barnes said. “We wanted to start out that way. To get everybody in the mood.”

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon was the first to speak. “We are concerned as to how the governor’s vetoes will impact our state,” she said. “We respectfully ask (legislators) to override the vetoes.”

Hundreds attend a rally in front of the Capitol calling for an override of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget vetos on the first day of the Second Special Session of the Alaska Legislature in Juneau on Monday, July 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Hundreds attend a rally in front of the Capitol calling for an override of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget vetos on the first day of the Second Special Session of the Alaska Legislature in Juneau on Monday, July 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Many of the speakers noted that difficult decisions had to be made concerning the state budget, but that such deep and extensive cuts would cripple the state for generations.

We will continue to suffer job loss and outward migration if these vetoes are allowed,” said Nadine Lefebvre, president of the Alaska Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

Many of the speakers stressed that such massive cuts to the state budget, particularly those to the state’s education system, would make the state less attractive to investment and leave the state ill-equipped to compete in a competitive marketplace.

Amy Jo Meiners, former Alaska teacher of the year, talked about the challenges schools face trying to plan amid unpredictable funding.

“Teachers fear pink slips,” she said. “How can we expect people to live with that fear, year after year?”

Hundreds attend a rally in front of the Capitol calling for an override of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget vetos on the first day of the Second Special Session of the Alaska Legislature in Juneau on Monday, July 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Hundreds attend a rally in front of the Capitol calling for an override of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget vetos on the first day of the Second Special Session of the Alaska Legislature in Juneau on Monday, July 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

“We’re setting our students up to fail,” Israa Kako, a former pre-school teacher and advocate for early education said.

“This is not Kansas,” Brian Holst, executive director of the Juneau Economic Development Council and Juneau School Board president said, referring to the massive cuts to public services made in that state. “Dividends do little towards job creation,” he said.

“Is Governor Dunleavy walking back his ‘open for business’ promise? Yes! He is,” said Kate Troll, a former Juneau Assembly member. “He promised not to cut. ‘No pain for Alaska,’ he said.”

The overall sentiment at the rally was perhaps best articulated by Jane Andreen of AARP: “We’re doubling the (permanent fund dividend) at the expense of state services.”

Dunleavy has promised to pay a roughly $3,000 dividend this year, what he says is the full statutory amount. The governor has also said that legislators who voted against the full amount are doing so to fund an “unsustainable budget.”

A special session to address the vetoes has been scheduled for Wednesday, but with the Legislature split between Juneau and Wasilla, the outcome of the political standoff remains up in the air.


• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.


“Override! Override! Override!’ Hundreds turn out in Juneau to protest Dunleavy’s vetoes

More in News

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Kenai Courthouse is photographed on Feb. 26, 2019, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Sterling resident sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual abuse of minors

Additionally, Crane will face 15 years of supervised probation as well as sex offender registration and treatment

Shrubs grow outside of the Kenai Courthouse on Monday, July 3, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former Soldotna police officer acquitted of 2023 assault allegations

He was found not guilty following a five-day trial in late June

A parade of cars and trucks flying flags in support of former President Donald Trump proceed down the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Residents caravan across central peninsula in support of Trump

The parade came a day after an attempted assassination of the former president

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
King salmon fishing closed on Kasilof starting Monday

The emergency order is being issued to protect returning king salmon, citing weak returns

Soldotna City Hall is seen on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna’s city council appropriates funds for FY 2025 capital projects

Improvements are described for streets, police facility, Soldotna Creek Park and Soldotna Community Memorial Park

Most Read