Alaska Speaker Chenault has words for Begich after Begich has words for Legislature

Alaska Speaker of the House Mike Chenault sent a message back to U.S. Sen. Mark Begich following Begich’s annual address to the Legislature on Monday. In a press release, Chenault said that he “wished to correct the record and call for clarity and results for Alaska, instead of more Beltway-style speeches.”

The move was unusual for Chenault, who, although a Republican, is normally more conciliatory.

In his speech, Begich highlighted a variety of federal legislative successes, including keeping the F-16s at Eielson Air Force Base, increased funds for the Arctic, and fighting federal government overreach.

All of that likely would not have rankled the Republican dominated Legislature. However, a large chunk of Begich’s speech was devoted to state education issues. Among other things, he came out against a resolution that would let the public vote on changing the constitution to allow for public money to go to private institutions.

“Public dollars are for public schools, period,” Begich said.

If two-thirds of the Legislature passes the resolution, the question would be on the ballot in the general election, and would likely be a huge poll-draw for religious conservatives, who are also likely to vote against Begich.

In Chenault’s rejoinder, among other things, he blamed the federal government and Begich for shorting the Anchorage School District of funds. He criticized Begich for his refusal to say where he stands on the oil tax repeal, and as is requisite among Republicans, brought up Begich’s vote on ObamaCare.

“We need a senator that stands up for us, not one who only says he will, then votes with his party against Alaskans,” Chenault said.

Read the release in full below:

After sitting through a speech today delivered by Alaska’s junior senator, Alaska Speaker of the House Mike Chenault has a message back to Mark Begich: less talk, more action. Speaker Chenault, following the senator’s annual address to legislators, wished to correct the record and call for clarity and results for Alaska, instead of more Beltway-style speeches. Speaker Chenault cited the following remarks and responses to questions from legislators during and after his address:

Education funding
Sen. Begich said it should come down to increasing the Base Student Allocation. “Anchorage, where he was mayor, has lost $46 million over the past two years due to federal sequestration and loss of stimulus money. That’s from its own financial officer. He should be working to secure federal funding for schools to fill that gap, not asking the state to pay even more than we already do. We’ve well-funded schools on our end, and have more than doubled inflation. He should be making sound decisions and know the facts before he speaks,” Speaker Chenault said. “The federal government shorted the Anchorage School District, not we the legislature. Why is he letting the federal government do that to Alaskan kids, increasing the financial burden at the state and local level?”

Oil taxes
Sen. Begich wouldn’t say which way he would vote on the Senate Bill 21 referendum, citing only that he supports “certainty” in the tax system. “I would hope the senator realizes that that is exactly what SB21 provides, that certainty. Changing the system again would lead to uncertainty. Sen. Begich should be supporting SB21 like a majority of Alaskans, leading to jobs and more exploration, not stagnation,” Speaker Chenault said.

Sen. Begich admitted that he had reservations about President Barack Obama’s signature piece of legislation, despite being the 60th vote needed to pass it. “He can’t have it both ways. Don’t vote for a bill if you know it’s a bad bill. Don’t vote for a bill if you don’t know what’s in it, or the consequences to Alaskans. Now, Alaskans are saddled with a subpar system, a web portal that didn’t deliver, and having to live with the disingenuous statements made by Sen. Begich and President Obama: ‘you can keep your plan or you doctor if you like’ is what they told us. Well, that’s clearly not the case. Sen. Begich is back-tracking. Alaskans deserve better than that,” Speaker Chenault said.

Speaker Chenault said it comes down to taking responsibility and showing accountability. “Instead, what Alaskans heard today was more spin from Sen. Begich, and few solutions. We need a senator that stands up for us, not one who only says he will, then votes with his party against Alaskans,” Speaker Chenault said.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


11 thoughts on “Alaska Speaker Chenault has words for Begich after Begich has words for Legislature

  1. Mae

    It is a simple concept. No matter who says it.


    Parnell and Dunleavy would rather see tax dollars go to church run schools.
    When religious institutions in this country pay taxes, then maybe they can apply for some tax money to fund the purchase of religious educational materials.

  2. Observing in AK since 1973

    I really don’t pay attention to statements made by our politicians when they’re about someone not in their party. Their certainly not going to agree with anything the opposite side says. Those releases are only to feed the flames of their own supporters. Now if they actually agreed on something or said, “Hey, I don’t particularly care for that law so let’s work together to change some of it. Maybe I’ll compromise on some things you don’t like and you compromise on some things I don’t like.” Now that would be a release I’d pay attention to.
    Of course that’s not going to happen when even in these comment sections, the talking points are parroted instead of making original comments. (i.e., “These resolutions have nothing to do with funding private/religious schools.”) Really? Please explain in your own words why it’s necessary to change the language and what other need there is for that change, other than to allow non-public schools to be funded with state money.

  3. jill

    It sounds to me that Begich is more interested in state issues than federal issues. I voted for him. That’s a mistake I won’t repeat.

  4. Lynn Willis

    Mark Begich is the consummate politician always inflating his or her own importance while promising solutions that will amazingly appear immediately after he or she is elected or, in Mark’s case, re-elected.

  5. Progressive Alaskan

    Why are Republicans so miserably unhappy always squawking about this and that with conspiracy theories galore? I’ll be the first to tell you that our junior senator is far from perfect. But really, what are the choices? Mead Tredwell? Now there’s a bundle of political confusion and ever changing philosophy depending on what group he is in front of. He ridiculously claims credit for everything good that has happened in Alaska since he was 4 years old. He spends all his time telling us that his opponents aren’t worthy but he is. No thanks. Then there’s Joe Miller. As a tea party disciple he preaches against government giveaways; yet, he’s been on the public dole and has seemingly taken advantage of every government giveaway and welfare program out there. Hey Joe, can you match your talk with your walk? Until then, no thanks. Who’s left? I almost forgot abouit Afghan Dan or whatever they call him to distinguish him from the other public official who is a scoundrel with the same name. No question this guy is smart and well educated. He suffers a little bit from Tredwell syndrome thinking that he too is the second coming and has not only saved Alaska a multiple of times, directed the work of the US Supreme court and single handedly brought Iran to their knees. I might get excited about some of that until I got to meet the guy. He’s too much of an upper class snob for me. Like I said, Begich might not be perfect but given the choices he’s okay and will get my vote. Having said all this, I think Representative Chenault had some grounds for his criticism. A joint session of the legislature where a member of the federal delegation is speaking should be a report from our nation’s capitol, not a political campaign message. If Begich was going to tell Alaskans what to think and what to do on state issues, I think he was remiss not to speak out on SB 21. I for one would have liked to heard his view and perspective. SB 21 is the most important issue facing us and I am still undecided trying to determine what is best for our state’s future.

  6. 302

    Previously, Sen. Begich used the excuse to avoid the Repeal of SB 21 question saying it was a state issue and the peoiple should vote. His speech yesterday made him a flip flopper I’d say. NEA has bought and paid for Begich just like every other liberal group.

  7. Reader from Fairbanks

    I watched Senator Begich;s speech to the joint session of the legislature yesterday and was shocked at his lecturing of the state legislature. Clearly, he was concerned abouit the constitutional amendment that would eliminate the barrier to funding private schools and providing for more eduucational choices and competition. His concerns are more political driven the philosophical driven. He likes NEA’s support, is afraid of the turnout if the resolution is on the ballott and evidently felt compelled to earn his campaign contributions from the teacher unions. His kid, I’m told, goes to a fancy private school which he can aford given his big paycheck he gets for serving in the senate. If he believes in the public school system so much why doesn’t his kid attend public school ? Think it all boils down to Mark cares more about politics and campaign contributions than kids, especially the kids who don’t have the means for educational choices and opportunities. I’m glad Chenault issued a press release criticizing Begich. His presentation wasn’t a report from DC: rather, it was a paid political speech. Paid for by the NEA teacher’s union. The same union that fights to keep incompetent school teachers on the job. Ted Stevens would have never stooped this low. Maybe he should have listened to Lisa Murkowski’s speech to see what a statesman sounded like.

  8. David Boyle

    It seems as if Senator Begich is parroting the NEA words. These resolutions have nothing to do with funding private/religious schools. Senator, read the resolutions before you make comments ala Pelosi. The only thing missing was the “Kids not Kuts” lapel sign.

  9. living at the end of the road

    Finally a politician brave enough to stand up to Begich and his propaganda machine.

Comments are closed.