Legislature(2001 - 2002)

2001-07-20 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

2001-07-20                     House Journal                      Page 1891
HB 103                                                                                            
The following letter, dated June 30, 2001, was received:                                            
"Dear Speaker Porter:                                                                               
On this date I have signed the following bill passed by the first session                           
of the Twenty-second Alaska State Legislature and am transmitting                                   
the engrossed and enrolled copies to the Lieutenant Governor's office                               
for permanent filing:                                                                               
      CONFERENCE CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 103                                                          
      "An Act making appropriations for the operating and loan                                      
      program expenses of state government, for certain programs, and                               
      to capitalize funds; and providing for an effective date."                                    
      Chapter No. 60, SLA 2001                                                                      
      [Effective Date:  July 1, 2001]                                                               
Taking all funds into account, the state budget for next year is $7.4                               
billion.  Permanent Fund dividends and inflation proofing account for                               
$1.8 billion of the total, and $2.1 billion in capital projects and                                 
operating programs will be paid from federal funds. The general fund                                
portion is $2.4 billion. Much of this $117 million increase over                                    
FY2001was necessary to pay debt service and replace one-time funds                                  

2001-07-20                     House Journal                      Page 1892
used in the current budget. Yet even with these costs and some                                      
additional investments in key services, the per person general fund                                 
cost of government is almost $1200 less in today's dollars than it was                              
in 1979, the last pre-oil boom year.                                                                
When I presented my FY2002 "Jobs and Families Budget" budget last                                   
December, I highlighted three basic goals we share for the continued                                
good health of our families and our state's economy:                                                
      · maintaining the level of vital public services;                                             
      · making additional strategic investments in education, early                                 
            childhood development, public health and public safety; and                             
      · restoring an appropriate level of services to business and                                  
            industry so the state can be an active supporter of economic                            
The final operating budget for FY2002 helps fulfill these                                           
commitments to protect Alaska's children, improve schools and keep                                  
Alaskans working. Next year, I hope we will continue progress in                                    
these critical areas for Alaska's future.                                                           
I have made no changes to the dollar amounts in the operating budget                                
bill passed by the Legislature. I would note that the Supreme Court's                               
recent decision in Alaska Legislative Council v. Knowles, 21 P.3d 367                               
(Alaska 2001), does not permit vetoes of intent or other language even                              
if that language is unconstitutional. However, I remain obligated to                                
follow the laws as enacted properly by the legislature and interpreted                              
by the state courts. As a result, two legislative additions to the bill                             
require comment even though I am not permitted to veto the language.                                
There is a major constitutional issue relating to the language with                                 
which the legislature attempts to limit expenditures for abortions. The                             
executive branch is already under court order in State of Alaska, Dept.                             
of Health & Social Services v. Planned Parenthood of Alaska to                                      
operate the Medicaid program in a constitutional manner by paying for                               
therapeutic or medically necessary abortions. Planned Parenthood has                                
already filed a request that the court clarify that the constitutional                              
protections extend to the FY2002 budget despite the language added                                  
by the legislature in an effort to avoid such payment. I will abide by                              
the decision of the court as to whether these abortions must be paid for                            
in FY2002.                                                                                          

2001-07-20                     House Journal                      Page 1893
The other issue relates to language inserted at Conference Committee                                
which says that funds appropriated may not be used to pay personal                                  
services costs due to reclassification of job classes during next fiscal                            
year unless those reclassifications were specifically budgeted. Job                                 
classification - the process of determining which jobs are grouped                                  
together based on duties, responsibilities and other factors - is an                                
integral part of the responsibility assigned by AS 39.25.150 to the                                 
division of personnel. The executive branch must fulfill this                                       
responsibility in a manner consistent with the constitutionally                                     
established merit principle. An attempt to prohibit implementation of                               
changes in job classification in this manner is not consistent with the                             
constitutional merit principle or the limitation on combining                                       
substantive law with appropriations bills.                                                          
In addition to the legal difficulties with the bill's approach, there are                           
practical problems as well. The state's ability to recruit and retain                               
essential employees in the current job market depends on a                                          
classification system that can appropriately adjust to external factors                             
beyond our control such as changes in technology, professional                                      
licensing requirements, federal program requirements, and the nature                                
of the work. The timing of our need to make these adjustments does                                  
not always conveniently track the budget cycle.  Waiting several                                    
months for a supplemental or the next year's budget appropriation                                   
could significantly impair the ability of our agencies to deliver                                   
essential services to the public.                                                                   
                                          Tony Knowles