So what is the binding caucus?
It is a commitment and agreement made in the majority caucus to leadership, to agree to the operating, capital, and now, PFD appropriations before any legislator knows the "end product." If you agree to accept the binding caucus, you are in line to be given committee assignments, Chairmanships of committees, larger staffs and larger offices. It is a direct form of coercion and bribery which actually is against the law.
There is an implied promise that legislators will be able to "craft" the respective budgets as they work their way through respective committees. This is a complete fabrication of the truth and many legislators will admit that the final budget is created by 6 legislators out of the 60 in the legislative body. The Senate President, Speaker of the House, and Co-Chairs of Senate and House finance committees create the final budget. Period.
Any other discussion of "shared" input is pure poppycock!
So why does the Binding Caucus exist? It is driven by these three reasons.
First, there is a myth that it would be impossible to create a budget. Leadership says without a binding caucus we would have chaos dealing with the only Constitutional requirement the legislature has each year. So, It needs to be known that Alaska is the only state in the nation which uses the Binding Caucus to move financial legislation. Why are all the other states able to pass budgets consistently without "chaos?"
Second, enough legislators are willing to be bribed into obtaining the cookies which come with "playing ball with the leadership team." They understand that without participating in committee assignments or having Chair positions, or being awarded additional staff, it is extremely difficult to create legislative results which you can bring back home to advertise to your constituents how effective you have been and thus help ensure your re-election.
Third, weak leadership must have the tools of bribery and coercion at their disposal in order to drive the financial budgets they have predetermined with a select few legislators and unfortunately, special interest groups who have powerful lobbies to help drive their agenda.
Ultimately, it is my opinion that the Binding Caucus is exactly why the State of Alaska, through the legislature, will never deliver a balanced budget.
In other words, the binding caucus is exactly the reason why we are in the current financial mess, and if we do not abandon the binding caucus we are ensured that we will continue to be led by weak leadership who lack real communication and team building skills and thus, our financial calamity will continue.
Those legislators who have stepped out of line and refused to vote for bloated, excessive budgets when they hit the respective legislative floors for final approval, have been met with severe punishment. If you exhibited these same characteristics with your children in your own house, the Office of Child Protective Services ( OCS ) would have come taken your children away and deemed you unfit for parenthood. This is our current leadership. This is completely uncalled for. We cannot allow our representatives to be treated in this fashion. Ask your legislators if they agree to a binding caucus for this will give you a clear window to their values. We must elect representatives who are willing to stand up against this tyranny. The bullies in the school yard need to have an elective attitude adjustment.
My opponent, Jennifer Johnston is one of the 6 members of the "elite" bully club of legislators who create and ensure the current budgets which are passed. She is directly responsible for massive deficit spending and the total destruction of the PFD program which we have all been witness and victim to this year. She owns this financial legacy along with her other five bully cohorts.
This is my commitment to my constituents which I take pride in committing to paper. Without eliminating a binding caucus, I am merely giving my most important vote to a select few and I cease to represent the people who have sent me to Juneau to represent them. It is not equal representation.
Given the continuation of the binding caucus we might as well just send 6 representatives to Juneau to deploy our legislative interests and quit fooling ourselves and the citizens of Alaska. We deserve better!