Members of the state House of Representatives are joining the Senate in challenging Gov. Sarah Palin over last year's vetoes of local capital projects.
The Alaska Legislature earlier declined to attempt to override Palin's vetoes, which some members said would be unnecessarily confrontational.
Instead, resentment over Palin's vetoes and attitude resulted in a new tactic, which some legislators said also was confrontational, but more likely to pass.
The vetoed projects were added into this year's supplemental budget, usually reserved for emergencies or unanticipated costs such as Interior firefighting or ferry fuel increases.
The bad feelings over the budget, some legislators said, stemmed from Palin's comments accompanying the vetoes last year that the Legislature was spending too much, and that there needed to be an "adult in the room."
House Speaker John Harris, R-Valdez, a 10-year legislative veteran, said the attitude didn't sit well with many of his colleagues.
"A number of us felt that was a slap in the face," he said.
The Senate last week added $51 million of the vetoed projects into the current supplemental budget, and on Wednesday the House added about $20 million more, to bring the total amount of restored projects to about $70 million.
The bulk of the supplemental budget bill contains less controversial items, such as appropriating surpluses to savings and adding money to weatherization programs to help combat high energy costs.
Palin said Wednesday she remained opposed to what the Legislature was doing.
"I believe it's inappropriate to stuff a supplemental budget with a package of last year's vetoed capital projects," she said in a statement provided by Sharon Leighow, deputy press secretary.
Palin did not say whether she'd veto the projects again, however.
Members of the Senate Republican Minority unsuccessfully challenged the resubmittal of the vetoed projects on the Senate floor, but members of the Democratic minority in the House indicated they would likely support the Republican House majority's actions.
House Democratic Leader Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, said Palin's lack of communication with the Legislature left her surprised when the vetoes came last year. She said she'd told many community groups to expect to get the amount requested, then had to call them and tell them the money was not coming.
Rep. Mary Nelson, D-Bethel, said she was so unhappy with Palin's vetoes last year that she'd be willing to support a veto override this year. The projects for her rural constituency can't wait for the regular capital budget, she said.
"If we don't get materials on the spring barge", she said. "We can lose the whole summer season (for construction)."
Rep. Bill Thomas Jr., R-Haines, said his support for the vetoed projects was not meant to be a challenge to Palin.
"I'm not trying to be disrespectful to the governor," he said.
Instead, it was a recognition of the state's changed financial circumstances, he said.
"We've made millions and billions of dollars since the vetoes," he said, referring to soaring oil prices and revenues.
Final passage in the House may come as soon as today, said Rep. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, and co-chairman of the House Finance Committee.
Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 586-4816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Juneau Empire ©2013. All Rights Reserved.