Representative Matt Claman's Alaska Matters
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Protecting Your Rights: Serving Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain
April 20th, 2015
In this issue:
• The Budget and the Constitutional Budget Reserve
• Medicaid reform and expansion bill
• Public education funding
• Erin's Law
• Follow us!

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Today is the 91st day of the legislative session. Over the past two weeks, I have received countless emails and letters from Alaskans across the state and within our district about several major issues. It is inspiring to hear from so many Alaskans, keep up the good work! In this newsletter, I want to let you know what the Legislature should address before we can head home, and my view on the issues that have received so much public attention.  

The Budget and the Constitutional Budget Reserve

The Legislature is constitutionally mandated to pass a budget each legislative session. As you know, this year, because of the price of oil, the State does not have enough revenue to cover its expenses. Thankfully, we have savings in the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR) fund built up from high oil prices in past years. The Legislature can only appropriate funds from the CBR by a three-quarter vote by each body (House and Senate) of the Legislature. This year, the Republican-led Majority will need support from the Independent-Democratic Coalition in order to appropriate funds in the CBR.

Advocates of Medicaid expansion rally on the Capitol steps last week.
Advocates of Medicaid expansion rally on the Capitol steps last week.

Budget negotiations are happening right now. The Independent-Democratic Coalition has two primary concerns: public education funding and Medicaid expansion. These two items are critical in coming to consensus about the budget.

Medicaid Reform and Expansion Bill

I have received an enormous number of emails, letters, and cards about Medicaid expansion and public education funding. Over 75% of West Anchorage residents who responded to our 2015 Constituent Survey support Medicaid expansion. If a bill to reform and expand Medicaid comes to the House and Senate floor, the sense within the Capitol is that a majority of legislators will support the bill. One of the Medicaid reform bills under consideration, HB 148, was voted 6-1 out of the House Health and Social Services (HSS) Committee in early April. Since then, however, the House Finance Committee has held five committee hearings, but has not referred the bill to the full House for a vote.

Governor Walker addresses Medicaid expansion advocates at a rally last week.
Governor Walker addresses Medicaid expansion advocates at a rally last week.

Despite the fact that a majority of legislators support Medicaid expansion, as does the Governor and at least 60% of Alaskans state-wide, the Republican-led Majority Caucus has declined to put the bill on the House Floor. In a recent article in the Alaska Dispatch News, legislators from the Majority explained that a Medicaid reform and expansion bill will not be considered by the full House and Senate until a majority of the Majority Republican Caucuses support the bill.  

Public Education Funding

In addition to Medicaid expansion, I have received lots emails and letters from public education supporters. Supporting public education is one of my highest priorities—and the right to public education is protected under the Alaska Constitution. The House Majority pushed for an education budget with deeper cuts than already proposed by the Walker-Mallott administration. As I believe the proposed Walker-Mallott education budget is the minimum investment in public education in these challenging times, I voted against the operating budget approved by the House. In its budget, the Senate proposed even deeper cuts to education. I believe that our children are our best investment for the future and adequately funding public school education is the right choice for Alaska. As budget negotiations continue, I am working to continue our investment in public education for Alaska’s children.

Members of Great Alaska Schools have flooded the hallways and the steps of the Capitol for the last week. Above are youth rallying in support of public education funding.
Members of Great Alaska Schools have flooded the hallways and the steps of the Capitol for the last week. Above are youth rallying in support of public education funding.

Erin’s Law

Another issue under consideration, and the subject of many supportive emails, is “Erin’s Law,” which is the bill that implements a training plan for public school teachers and employees to learn about the warning signs of child sexual assault.  I was pleased to vote for this important piece of legislation. This bill will help save children’s lives, and it’s right for Alaska. Now, it is up to the Senate to pass this legislation, as Governor Walker is committed to signing the legislation. Please keep up the good work writing legislators and expressing your opinion.

Once I am back in Anchorage, I will be happy to meet with you about events that happened this legislative session. Feel free to contact my office and set up a time that is convenient.

At the start of each Floor Session, a member of the House leads the body in an invocation. It was my pleasure to lead the invocation last Friday.
At the start of each Floor Session, a member of the House leads the body in an invocation. It was my pleasure to lead the invocation last Friday.

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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