Press Release

Alaska Supreme Court Affirms Governor's Veto Authority Regarding Longevity Bonus Appropriation

February 10, 2006

(Anchorage) – Alaska Attorney General David Márquez announced today that the Alaska Supreme Court issued a decision in Simpson v. Murkowski, affirming the Governor's authority to veto the appropriation for longevity bonus payments.

"The plaintiffs in this case raised several theories for continuing this program, all of which were denied at the trial court level. Today's decision upholds this earlier ruling," said Márquez. "The significance of today's ruling is its affirmation of the role that both the legislative and executive branches play in proposing and approving our state budget. Today's decision also concluded that the Longevity Bonus Act did not create a legally enforceable promise to continue payments for seniors under the plaintiffs' promissory estoppel and contract theories."

The only legal issue remaining and remanded to the superior court for determination is whether an economic incentive exists for the plaintiffs such that they do not hold public interest litigant status. This distinction is critical because depending upon that determination the plaintiffs could be required to pay legal costs to the state for not prevailing on this lawsuit.

"Despite the fact that today's opinion seeks more of a factual record to be developed to determine whether the plaintiffs in this case qualify as public interest litigants, the state will not pursue this claim on remand," said Marquez. "Our motivation in this matter was to seek clarification of the law. While we do not concede our position that the plaintiffs would not qualify as public interest litigants, pursuing the point in light of today's decision is unwarranted."

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