Representative Matt Claman's Alaska Matters
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Protecting Your Rights: Serving Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain
April 28th, 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Yesterday, the Legislature adjourned by passing a budget that does not provide access to affordable healthcare to all Alaskans through Medicaid expansion and does not meet our constitutional duty to adequately fund public education. In addition, the budget provides only partial funding for next year and does not reflect the legislative consensus that the Alaska Constitution demands in challenging fiscal times. This Legislature needed to make smart cuts to the budget, but the cuts approved only by the majority are not in line with the interests of the people of Alaska, the Governor, and the Independent-Democratic Coalition.

Throughout the past 8 days of the extended session, we have received hundreds of emails from people across Alaska urging the Legislature to expand and reform Medicaid, support public education, and pass the child sexual awareness bill called “Erin’s Law.” Instead, the Republican-led Majority passed a budget that leaves a state budget gap of about $3.2 billion and only funds State government until the fall of 2015.

Just one of countless emails that we have received explaining why the State needs to reform and expand Medicaid.
Just one of countless emails that we have received explaining why the State needs to reform and expand Medicaid
.

Constitutional Budget Reserve

Major revenue shortfalls because of the low price of oil now require the Legislature to withdraw money from the Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund (“CBR”), a rainy-day savings account created by a constitutional amendment. Alaska voters wisely required the Legislature to build consensus with a three-quarter vote in both the House and the Senate to withdraw funds from the CBR. The Republican-led Majority in the House needed to work and negotiate with the Independent-Democratic Coalition and find a compromise for Medicaid expansion and a budget that works for Alaska.

Looking back at the three major issues facing the State when we first arrived in January—Medicaid expansion, investing in public education, and sensible budget cuts; it is apparent that the Republican Majority did not have the same priorities as the people of Alaska. In our election of Governor Walker, in multiple communications to my office, and in statewide polls showing at least 60% of Alaskans support Medicaid expansion while only 30% of Alaskans oppose improving access to health care, it’s apparent that Medicaid expansion is not a partisan issue—it’s an Alaska issue. And Alaskans are demanding that the Legislature vote for Medicaid expansion and reform as well as a budget supported by three-quarters of the legislature.

Medicaid Reform and Expansion

In last night’s press conference, the Majority confirmed that Medicaid reform and expansion is one issue where they remain unwilling to compromise. In fact, the budget that was passed yesterday includes language that would prevent the State from accepting any federal dollars to expand Medicaid.

Commissioner Valerie Davidson has shown that Alaska has already lost $190 million since January 1st, 2014 by failing to accept Medicaid expansion. We continue to lose $400,000 a day for each day that we do not agree to expand Medicaid. And we will lose another $570 million over the next six years if we refuse to expand and reform Medicaid.

This timeline shows the State stands to gain $570 million in State savings by reforming and expanding Medicaid
This
timeline shows the State stands to gain $570 million in State savings by reforming and expanding Medicaid

The Majority leadership is refusing to allow HB 148, the Medicaid expansion and reform bill, to have a vote by the entire House and Senate. In a recent Alaska Dispatch Article, Senate President Kevin Meyer suggested that the Majority would not allow a bill on the floor even if a majority (combination of Republicans, Democrats, and independents) of the legislature supported the bill: “We (the Majority) don’t want to put anything on the floor that the majority caucus doesn’t support.” Additionally, in a recent Senate Finance Committee hearing (minute 74), the Chair of the committee said, “I don’t understand how the State benefits [from Medicaid expansion] (even if) people of Alaska may benefit [from Medicaid expansion] because of access issues.” Our communications with people from across our State show that Alaskans want the legislature to recognize the interests of the people of Alaska, and it is not fair to refuse access to affordable health care for over 40,000 hard-working and poor Alaskans because a majority of one caucus do not want to vote on the bill.

Special Session

In addition to refusing to allow a floor vote on Medicaid expansion, legislative cuts to public education on top of the cuts already identified by the Walker-Mallott administration were too extreme to build the consensus required for the Legislature to access the Constitutional Budget Reserve. Our coalition offered $750 million in additional cuts that included removing funding for the Northern Access (Bragaw) Road, the Juneau Access Road, and the Susitna-Watana Dam project. The Majority voted against those cuts to mega projects, voted against Medicaid expansion in the operating budget, and imposed deep cuts on education, children, seniors, and the working poor.

The Executive Proclamation issued by Governor Walker calling the Legislature into Special Session
The Executive Proclamation issued by Governor Walker calling the Legislature into Special Session

Minutes after the House and Senate adjourned, Governor Walker issued an Executive Proclamation that called the Legislature into a Special Session to address: the budget, Medicaid reform and expansion (HB 148), and the Alaska Safe Children’s Act (HB 44)—“Erin’s Law.” I will continue to work hard in Juneau to support public education, Medicaid expansion, and a budget that works for Alaska.

Anchorage Mayoral Run-Off Election

Don’t forget to vote in the Anchorage Mayoral Run-Off Election! You can vote early or on election day, May 5th! You can find more information at the Municipality’s website by clicking here.
Don’t forget to vote in the Anchorage Mayoral Run-Off Election! You can vote early or on election day, May 5
th! You can find more information at the Municipality’s website by clicking here.

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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