|Protecting Your Rights: Serving Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain|
|January 27, 2017
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Session kicked off last week and is now in full swing. As we begin hearing legislation, the budget remains front and center. The Governor welcomed us back to Juneau with the State of the State address in which he discussed the need to pass a responsible budget to close the $3 billion dollar deficit. He also addressed the growing opioid epidemic.
Governor Walker’s State of the State
Last Wednesday, Governor Walked delivered his third State of the State address. He outlined his plan to fix Alaska’s fiscal crisis, address education reform, and combat the opioid epidemic. The Governor is proposing a sustainable fiscal plan that includes spending cuts, use of Permanent Fund earnings, an increased motor fuels tax, a $1000 Dividend, and a broad-based tax to balance the state’s budget. While we have already cut the budget 44 percent, the administration will continue to eliminate wasteful spending. After noting major cuts, Governor Walker remarked, “We can’t keep cutting the budget and expect to improve our situation. Alaskans demand – and deserve – better.”
The Governor also affirmed his commitment to public education and identified the following priorities: improving student learning; ensuring excellent educators; modernizing our education system; inspiring tribal and community ownership; and promoting safety and well-being. The public will be invited to provide input on these priorities through the Board of Education, which will provide final recommendations to the Governor in December.
Lastly, the Governor spoke about steps to tackle the opioid epidemic. His advice included limiting the amount of opioids able to be prescribed, increasing addiction education for healthcare providers, and classifying specific opioids as controlled substances. Governor Walker was sympathetic to those effected by the epidemic and offered his devotion to “end the needless suffering wrought by opioids and heroin.”
Governor Walker concluded his speech by sharing his vision for Alaska and encouraging lawmakers to help build a strong future for the state. The Governor noted that while our challenges are many, the rewards are even greater. Read the full speech here.
Upgraded Budget Subcommittee Process
To improve efficiency and increase public transparency, the Alaska House Majority Coalition has introduced a new process for budget subcommittees. In the past, each state agency had its own subcommittee to review its budget. This year, the House Finance Committee has streamlined the process by merging the subcommittees into existing committee meetings. Members from the existing committees now review the budgets with a member of the House Finance Committee who serves as chair of the subcommittee.
“A benefit to this new approach is that those legislators with subject matter expertise or interest who sit on a relevant committee can now work on both budgets and policy,” said House Finance Committee Co-chair, Paul Seaton (R-Homer).
The new budget process also allows for greater public transparency. Meetings will take place during the work day and will be broadcast on 360 North.
BP Teacher of Excellence Awards
The deadline for the submission of BP’s annual Teacher of Excellence Awards is fast approaching. February 1st is your last chance to nominate your favorite teacher or educational ally. It’s a great opportunity to say “thank you” to those who make a difference in the lives of our children. Submit your nomination here.
Upcoming Community Events
As always, please let us know if you have any question or concerns.
Rep. Matt Claman
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