By opposing override, Wilson, Talerico endorse dismantling of University of Alaska

The Fairbanks legislators, with two exceptions, took a reasonable position and voted to override the governor's vetoes, but it was to no avail.

The exceptions are Rep. Tammie Wilson, who voted no, and Rep. Dave Talerico, who didn't show up. Wilson's action and Talerico's inaction amount to an endorsement of the dismantling of the University of Alaska. The veto override, which required 45 votes, failed 37-1.

Meanwhile, UA President JIm Johnsen said he was holding out a glimmer of hope that legislators in Wasilla may reconsider their refusal to attend and that some would vote to override.

There is also a chance that some UA funding could be restored through an appropriations bill.

The Legislature is to reconvene Thursday at 10:30 a.m. where this exercise may be repeated. Talerico and the others who refused to attend ought to show up in Juneau and take a stand. Talerico and the others did not support a 41 percent budget cut to the university during the regular session, which is one reason why they ought to support the override.

Because there is a chance that there may be no help for the university, however, the university if preparing to ask the UA Board of Regents to declare a financial emergency Monday, which would allow for major program reductions and closures quickly.

Today’s joint session was recessed until tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. This allows another day for absent legislators to go to Juneau, join their colleagues and reconsider today’s override vote. If that effort fails, there will be a separate appropriation bill introduced as part of this special session. We are ready to work with every legislator to restore some amount of funding through a new bill or through the capital budget. We also will work to reinstate the funding for our performance and needs based scholarships and medical school program, which were lost as a result of this inability to finalize the state’s operating budget.

“The amount of any new funds—if any come our way—is uncertain, and whether they are recurring or just ‘one-time’ is unknown,” Johnsen said in a letter to UA staff and students.

“All this means that we will not have resolution of our funding for some weeks to come. As we continue to stay engaged in the legislative process, we also must go forward and ask the Board of Regents to consider a declaration of financial exigency when the board meets on Monday. Every day that passes without resolution means deeper cuts later this year, not to mention reduced enrollment and flight of faculty and staff.”

The governor took action on the budget three days before the fiscal year began and vetoed far more from the university than any other part of state government. His action, if not overturned, would lead to UA layoffs of from 1,300 to 2,000 people across the state.

Dermot Cole2 Comments