Sen. Mike Shower won’t join the Senate Majority because he’d be required to vote for its budget

Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, during the Feb. 28, 2018 Senate Floor session. (Photo by Alaska Senate Majority)

The Senate’s newest member has declined to join the Republican-led Senate Majority caucus over concerns about a growing budget.

Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, told the Senate Majority this morning that he will not be joining the 13-member majority because he won’t promise to support the budget, the one major requirement of majority caucus membership.

He explained his reasoning in a post to his official Facebook page, noting that with Gov. Bill Walker and the Democrat-led House Majority Coalition it is “likely there’ll be a budget increase more than our district would support at the end of the process.”

“All members of a majority caucus must agree to vote for the budget no matter its size,” he wrote. “For this reason, I’m unable to commit to be a member of the Senate Majority caucus at this time. I believe we need cuts, not an increase in government spending.”

Legislative majorities require members to cast certain votes, including on the budget and constitutional budget reserve votes. It’s a requirement that drove Shower’s predecessor, Mike Dunleavy, and fellow Mat-Su Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, to ditch the Senate Majority last year.

Hughes’ departure from the Senate Majority already puts the Senate short of the 15 votes needed to tap the constitutional budget reserve, and Shower’s departure would only make that more complicated. It’s likely not the outcome Senate Republicans would have wanted after the bitter battle waged with Gov. Bill Walker over the appointment.

Shower’s position outside the majority, however, doesn’t preclude him from voting with the majority on certain issues, as we saw last week when he voted with the Senate Majority to prevent a constitutional amendment enshrining the permanent fund dividend from moving closer to the ballot.

The news leaves Sen. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, as the lone legislator from the Mat-Su Valley area to remain in the Senate Majority.

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