Representative Matt Claman's Alaska Matters
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Protecting Your Rights: Serving Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain
April 10, 2015
In this issue:
• Education funding & budget update
• Marijuana update
• Community events & opportunities

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We are quickly approaching the final days of session. The Legislature has several issues that we need address: Operating Budget, Capital Budget, Medicaid reform and expansion, and gasline legislation. These final days get very busy, we’ll do our best to keep you updated about legislative happenings. Please check my Facebook and [twitter.com/mattclaman]Twitter pages to stay informed on a daily basis.

Education Funding

The Senate voted on the Operating Budget this week. Since the House did not agree with the changes made by the Senate, the budget now goes to a Conference Committee. Three legislators from the House and three from the Senate are appointed to the Conference Committee to review the budget differences and to propose a compromise. One of the greatest issues of concern is the cut to public education.

The Senate Finance Committee had cut another $47 million in classroom funding – in addition to the $50 million cut proposed by the Governor. While Alaska is facing a major fiscal challenge, we’re hearing again and again from constituents that balancing the budget on the backs of Alaska students and teachers is not the right choice. Throughout the week, legislators have received countless emails from Alaskans across the state who support investing in public education. I wanted to share a few excerpts:

“If we look to the founding fathers of this great nation then we see that they had the wisdom to understand the importance of educating the people and to provide every citizen a free and appropriate education. This is only done by properly funding education not by cutting funds.”

“We want our graduating students to return to Alaska with their skills and raise their families, but the way things look now, they will not want to bring their families back to Alaska in the future years.  They know how hard they struggled with the already present cuts and now with more they will be even more frustrated when it is their children's turn to experience educational cuts.”

“The State of Alaska pays to incarcerate a prisoner at a cost of $136 per day, per prisoner or $49,800 per year. (2009) On the other hand, the State of Alaska believes the price of public education is too high and the Alaska Education system should do more with less. e.g. less teachers, less pay, more students per class, etc..”

Rep. Foster and Rep. Claman discuss the budget on the House Floor.
Rep. Foster and Rep. Claman discuss the budget on the House Floor.


There are three main components to education funding: 1) Base Student Allocation formula funding 2) One-time appropriations 3) Early education. Our constituent survey showed that over 60% of West Anchorage residents support funding the Base Student Allocation over one-time appropriations.

The Base Student Allocation (“BSA”) funds school districts based on a formula that considers each district’s student population and several multipliers such as students with special disabilities or students with English as a second language. The BSA is used for direct classroom services, including keeping teachers in the classroom. The Senate’s proposal for the Operating Budget includes a 4.5% cut to the Base Student Allocation, which results in $47.5 million less to school districts.

One-time appropriations are appropriations made to school districts outside of the formula funding for a specific time period. Last year, the Legislature made a three-year (for fiscal years 2015, 2016, and 2017) appropriation outside of the Base Student Allocation to school districts. The Governor removed this outside of the formula funding in his version of the Operating Budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. So far, the House and Senate have kept those reductions in one-time funding.

People rally to support early education funding on the Capitol steps!
People rally to support early education funding on the Capitol steps!


Early education, which includes programs like Best Beginnings and Parents as Teachers has received about $9 million in funding cuts. These are programs statistically proven to improve a child’s life well into their adult years. These programs are proven to help society as a whole by reducing the overall cost of government through positive changes, including reduced crime and recidivism rates.

Supporting public education is one of my highest priorities—and the right to public education is protected under the Alaska Constitution. Our children are our best investment for the future and adequately funding public school education is the right choice for Alaska.

Members of the House wore blue today to stand against child sexual abuse.
Members of the House wore blue today to stand against child sexual abuse.


Marijuana Update

There are multiple marijuana bills currently in play. HB 75 passed the House last week. The bill allows municipalities to regulate local marijuana dispensaries and farms, outlines how communities can opt-out, allows for the creation of advisory boards, limits plants and possession per household, and allows for marijuana clubs.  It is the combined effort of the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee, the Alaska Municipal League, and the Municipal League of Attorneys.

SB30, dubbed the “marijuana crime bill” passed the Senate last week and is now under consideration in the House Judiciary Committee, on which I serve. Previous versions of the bill removed marijuana from the controlled substances statute, and then outlined the various penalties for marijuana violations and crimes. This approach is similar to how we address alcohol crimes in Title IV. Instead, the version that the Senate passed leaves marijuana as a controlled substance and carves out or ‘excepts’ certain marijuana activities that would not be criminal. The Senate’s approach differs from the initiative approved by Alaskans in November, and the majority of the House Judiciary Committee appears to support a crime bill that is consistent with the initiative. We will continue to hear and work on SB30 in the next several days and will be mindful of the voters’ decision in November.

This week the House Judiciary Committee passed HB123, which established the Marijuana Control Board (MCB). Without establishing the board, the ability of the Alcoholic Beverages Control Board (ABC) to enforce its regulations would be diminished. The likelihood of marijuana growers forgoing licenses and remaining in the black market is increased when the board is ill-equipped to enforce infractions. Municipalities and the troopers don’t keep track of who is and who isn’t licensed, and therefore who can and cannot operate a commercial grow or retail operation. Like with alcohol, police and troopers normally leave it to the ABC to monitor licensees and enforce regulations.

 

Rep. Claman and the Judiciary Committee in marijuana “show and tell” day with the Juneau Police Department
Rep. Claman and the Judiciary Committee in marijuana “show and tell” day with the Juneau Police Department

 

Community Events and Opportunities

Join the creek clean up at University Lake on April 18th!
Join the creek clean up at University Lake on April 18
th!

As always, please let us know if you have suggestions or concerns.

signed: Matt Claman

    Rep. Matt Claman

    P.S. follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Contact Information

(907) 465-4919

Rep.Matt.Claman@akleg.gov

State Capitol Bldg. Rm 405
Juneau, Alaska 99801

www.repmattclaman.com

Contact the Governor

550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1700
Anchorage, AK 99501
T (907) 269-7450 F (907) 269-7461
EMAIL: Governor Bill Walker

STATE of ALASKA
http://alaska.gov/

State Info (907) 269-5111

Serving the Anchorage Neighborhoods of
Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain

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