The Alaska Legislative Council on Wednesday voted to authorize $500,000 to furnish the new Anchorage Legislative Office building. The expenditure, proposed by Committee Chair Rep. Mike Hawker, passed the committee 10-2. Reps. Bill Stoltze and Max Gruenberg voted against the measure.
Hawker came under fire for his vote by his Democratic opponent Sam Combs, who called it an “appalling example of fiscal mismanagement.”
“How on earth can he justify spending a half million on furniture–a 500% increase–while the state is in deficit spending and Anchorage teachers are being laid off,” Combs, an architect, said.
Last month, a special subcommittee, chaired by Stoltze, recommended unanimously that the committee only authorize $100,000 to spend on furniture for the public spaces in the building. The subcommittee concluded that there was enough existing furniture to furnish the offices of legislators and staffers comfortably enough. What the state already had in inventory was “more than adequate,” Stoltze said. The other members of the subcommittee included Senate President Charlie Huggins and House Speaker Mike Chenault, who voted for the $500,000 expenditure. Huggins wasn’t present.
“I’ve never had a member of the public complain that the couch in an office was mismatched,” Stoltze said.
Ten committee members disagreed. Sen. Gary Stevens, a Republican from Kodiak, called the $100,000 limit “unrealistic.”
Hawker said that the $500,000 price tag was a result of an “empirical study.”
Hawker was also the driving force behind the building of the new, $44 million, no-bid, Legislative Office Building. Democratic Rep. Les Gara first dubbed the project the “Taj Mahawker.”
The moniker has stuck.
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