Tucked among Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s 182 vetoes is a line that deletes most the state funding for the Alaska Wing of the Civil Air Patrol.
Southeast Squadron Commander Lisa Marx says the $250,000 cut by the governor is needed to pay basic utilities like electricity, heat and internet for units like hers. Without that support, the Juneau-based volunteers won’t be able to stay active for long.
“Because if I can’t keep my pilots and my other air crew current in their mission training, then in the event of a real emergency, I’m not going to have anyone that I can put in the air,” Marx said Wednesday.
Many of the Alaska Wing’s 17 units lease heated hangar space. Wing Commander Timothy Hahn says the governor’s veto would make that unaffordable after October 1.
“Everything’s going to have to be turned off,” Hahn told CoastAlaska by phone. “That may mean that we’re going to have to move some aircraft out onto tarmacs instead of being able to keep them in hangars, where they are, you know, fully prepared for search and rescue to where they may be iced over and buried in snow.”
The Civil Air Patrol is the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force chartered just days before the U.S. entered World War II. It maintains a fleet of 16 federally-owned small planes scattered around the state that responds to disasters and is key for search and rescue in rural areas.
It also runs a cadet program for Alaskans aged 12 to 18 to train as pilots and search and rescue teams.
Unless overridden by the three-fourths of the legislature, the Civil Air Patrol officers say Gov. Dunleavy’s veto would jeopardize the future of these programs.