By Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2020

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The Alaska Legislature failed to override more than $70 million in vetoes dealing with school construction projects and the state ferry system.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued the vetoes last summer, after lawmakers had adjourned.

The veto override session was announced late Thursday, with no clear indication of sufficient support.

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, an independent from Dillingham, in a statement said Alaskans “deserve to know where their elected officials stand.”

House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, in response to Edgmon’s statement, said the vote “was about nothing more than creating material to use against other members in the next election cycle.”

Lawmakers attempted to override a $5 million veto of funds for the ferry system and vetoes of funds for school debt reimbursement to municipalities and a construction fund for rural schools. The issues were considered as part of one vote.

At least 45 lawmakers had to vote in favor for the override to be successful; 37 of the 57 members present did so.

Supporters of an override argued lawmakers shouldn’t wait for a supplemental spending package this session to try to add the funds.

Critics cited the state’s budget deficit or encouraged colleagues to work through the upcoming budget process. Speaking about ferries, Sen. Peter Micciche, a Soldotna Republican, said the override session felt more political than focused on solutions for coastal communities.

While the override attempt failed, Senate President Cathy Giessel, an Anchorage Republican, said the discussion of the issues was worth having.

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