The figures are in, and they aren’t impressive. Or maybe they are for the wrong reason.
By now you’ve probably heard the price tab of the two special sessions held this year — a whopping $886,000.
We don’t think the those sessions were worth the cost.
In less than a month, Alaska’s politicians managed to ring up the aforementioned tally to reach an agreement that called for spending from the state’s budget reserve to balance the state budget, giving both sides essentially what they wanted and avoiding a government shutdown. Most Alaskans saw the need for a budget draw coming months before a special session was even mentioned; our deficit was simply too great to overcome with cuts alone.
What bothers us most is that during those three special session weeks, we saw money wasted. Senators and legislators seemed as if they weren’t working efficiently. On camera — when there was a camera — we saw few attending, and those who were attending seemed detached. Meetings didn’t start on time. Participation lagged. Some didn’t even bother to make the trip to Anchorage, where the sessions were held, because so little was being accomplished.
Alaska isn’t getting the paychecks it needs to fund its lifestyle, so to speak. We don’t have time or money to waste. As residents, we’re suffering “sticker shock” because there are plenty of things that could benefit from such a large sum of money.
We saw lawmakers haggle over $700,000 or so for the Parents as Teachers program, then spend more than that program’s funding to pay for the haggling.
Generally speaking, we would have rather seen that money go toward education, nonprofits, the needy, the Alaska Marine Highway System, communities with exorbitant energy costs, youth athletics programs, scholarships, deferred maintenance … and the list goes on.
Another special session is expected this fall. What we want to see come out of those meetings is efficiency and cooperation, prudence and expedition. This state doesn’t have time — or money — to waste.
— Juneau Empire, August 6