Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy held firm on a number of his line-item vetoes in the state’s operating budget, when he announced his final decision on Monday, Aug. 19. They contain several commercial fishery amendments offered by the state House.
United Fishermen of Alaska noted that the vetoes included a 50 percent reduction of general fund money for travel in all divisions of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. There’s also $997,000 less for commercial fisheries management, of which $280,000 was for special areas management, a one-time fund source for surveys and assessments.
Dunleavy also cut $3.4 million in funding for the Ocean Ranger cruise ship pollution inspection program, while saying in his documents that the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is actively exploring potential administrative and statutory options aimed at improving the state’s current cruise ship monitoring policies. The veto will not affect the rest of this summer’s cruise ship season, which runs through September, since these operations were funded by previous Ocean Ranger fees collected from cruise ship passengers.
The governor vetoed $5 million for the Alaska Marine Highway System recently added back into the ferry system budget by the Legislature. State Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, said that a legislative hearing in Juneau, Alaska broke every record in the state for public testimony. “Clearly the ferry system, which coastal fishing communities depend upon, is important to the people of Alaska,” she said. “For the governor not to hear us is inconceivable. Those dollars would have directly gone to Prince William Sound and Southeast Alaska,” she added. Stutes and Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak had worked with the state Department of Transportation to come up with ways to keep adequate ferry service for coastal communities this winter.
“We thought the $5 million would help solve the problem and then to see it yanked back at the last minute was shocking,” Stevens said.