Protecting Your Rights: Serving Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain
April 5, 2018
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On Monday, the House passed a budget that prioritizes public safety, fully-funds education, and pays a $1,600 PFD to Alaskans. I’m pleased that the House supported a budget that allows us to maintain vital public services, invest in public education, and improve public safety.
Operating Budget Passes the House
This Monday, the House passed HB 286, the FY19 operating budget. It totals $5.35 billion in General Fund dollars, down $833.4 million (26%) compared to FY15, and is similar to the FY18 operating budget. The state is forecasted to take in $1.63 billion in undesignated general fund (UGF) oil revenue in FY19, nearly covering the $1.7 billion needed to pay for vital state services including state troopers, schools, fish & game management, and road maintenance. The rest of the budget is funded through a 5.25% percent of market value (POMV) draw from the Permanent Fund’s Earnings Reserve Account, the first draw of its kind in Alaska’s history, and a Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR) draw of $708 million, including $100 million to cover unanticipated expenses in FY19.
The House has carefully cut the budget while preserving critical funding for public safety and education. It includes a $1,600 PDF to Alaskans, a $500 increase over the FY18 PFD, and a product of compromise; a $19 million increase in funding for the University of Alaska, a critical step toward increasing our Alaska-grown workforce; an $18 million increase for K-12 education to help address class sizes; funding for five Anchorage prosecutors to address increases in crime; and $942 million for inflation-proofing the Permanent Fund.
Our job does not end with the budget passing the House. Last year, the House passed a responsible action plan for Alaska including structured use of the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve while protecting the Dividend, reformation of the oil tax system, new revenue from a broad-based tax, and smart budget cuts. As this session winds to a close, we will continue to work toward a responsible action plan that continues our work to improve public safety, invest in education, and strengthen Alaska’s economy.
Department of Health & Social Services Launches Opioid Data Dashboard
Last week, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced the release of a new online tool for sharing data on the state’s opioid epidemic. The Opioid Data Dashboard tracks six sets of data, with information from hospitals, community partners, and pharmacists. Examples of the data included are emergency room visits, overdose deaths, doses of the anti-overdose drug naloxone given, and the number of babies born with opioids in their system.
Building the public dashboard is part of the Walker/Mallott administration’s ongoing response to Alaska’s growing opioid epidemic. Information on the type of opioid involved in overdose deaths is included, showing how fentanyl has become a major driver in the continuation of the opioid crisis.
The impact of the opioid epidemic is shown by information about the increased number of overdose deaths.
In 1999, drug overdose deaths and homicide deaths occurred at approximately the same rate of incidence. In comparison, drug overdose deaths in Alaska and nationwide were 3.7 times higher than homicides in 2016. In February 2017, Governor Walker declared the epidemic a public health crisis.
The Opioid Data Dashboard is at opioids.alaska.gov under the “Looking at the data” tab. The site also has information on how to get help, how to get a naloxone (Narcan) kit, how to get a bag to safely dispose of leftover medication, and more.
Go Blue Day
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a month dedicated to learning how we can make a difference in the lives of Alaska’s children. This Friday, April 6, is Go Blue Day. On this day, show your support for the prevention of child abuse and neglect by dressing in blue.
You can also show you support by attending the Anchorage Go Blue Rally that begins at 9 AM, April 6 at the Wells Fargo Building on Northern Lights Blvd at C Street.
Mark your calendar for these upcoming events:
April First Friday
Anchorage boasts a thriving and eclectic art scene. Alaskans celebrate the arts on the first Friday of every month with the First Friday Art Walk in Anchorage. Local galleries, restaurants, and other shops each host the works of an artist. The walk gets going after 5 PM. The Anchorage Museum also opens its doors to the public free-of-charge. In addition to the downtown scene, galleries and breweries in mid-town and South Anchorage host art shows. Pop in to see for yourself and support local artists.
When: Friday, April 6th, beginning at 5 PM
For a comprehensive list of shows, visit the Anchorage Press Events page.
33rd Annual Anchorage Wine & Food Festival
Join the American Cancer Society for a one-of-a-kind evening featuring 7 refined courses, each prepared by a different Alaskan chef and perfectly paired with premium wine. The 33rd Annual Anchorage Wine & Food Festival raises funds to invest in life-saving cancer research, educational outreach on cancer prevention, and programs and services for Alaskan cancer patients and their families. Programs and services include rides to and from appointments and flights and lodging for those who require treatment far from home. This year’s event promises a spectacular auction, fun “games of giving,” dancing, and much more.
When: Saturday, April 7th, from 5:30 - 11 PM
Visit the American Cancer Society’s event webpage for more information and to purchase tickets.
Fire Island Hop 5K
The Fire Island Hop is all about celebrating our community, gaining sunlight, and supporting a local non-profit. The 5K run starts at Fire Island's G Street location and ends at its Airport Heights location. This year, all proceeds will go to Alaska Seeds of Change through its non-profit parent Anchorage Community Mental Health Services.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.