Representative Matt Claman's Alaska Matters
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Protecting Your Rights: Serving Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain
June 26, 2017
In this issue:
• Legislature Approves Operating
Budget
• Community Events

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

On Thursday evening, the legislature passed House Bill 57, the FY18 operating budget. Passing this budget compromise means the state will continue to provide government services when the state’s fiscal year begins on July 1. Although passing the operating budget is a step in the right direction, the legislature has not adopted a responsible action plan to address Alaska’s financial challenges. There is more work to be done for a long-term solution.

Legislature Approves Operating Budget

In December, Governor Walker proposed an operating budget totaling $4.2 billion in Unrestricted General Fund (UGF) spending. The 2018 Operating Budget agreed upon by the legislature last week is $4.1 billion UGF. This compromise budget cuts $128.7 million from FY18 agency operations (including health and human services, the court system, and the legislature) and statewide costs (such as debt services, retirement assistance payments, and fund capitalization) compared to the FY17 budget. When compared to FY15, the state has reduced UGF spending by over $1.3 billion—over 24%.

Over the last three years, our state government has made significant budget cuts. The FY18 UGF budget is 3% lower than FY17 and makes significant cuts to agency budgets. Fish and Game, the Office of the Governor, Health and Social Services, Labor and Workforce Development, Law, Revenue, University of Alaska, Judiciary, and the Legislature are taking significant reductions. While the operating budget cuts will reduce certain state services, the legislature’s compromise restored funding to Pioneer Homes, public education, and the University while ensuring that essential government services such as our airports continue to operate. Recognizing that prior cuts are already undermining our commitment to public safety, the compromise budget increases the number of troopers and prosecutors.

Below is a brief summary of cuts and restorations in the operating budget:

Education

•   Public Schools (K-12) – Maintained current fiscal year spending with a Base Student Allocation (BSA) of $1.2 billion (reversing a $69 million cut proposed by the Senate).
•   Pre-K – Restored $2 million to Pre-K grants, as well as $500,000 for Parents as Teachers and $320,000 for Best Beginnings (reversing cuts proposed by the Senate).
•   Alaska Performance Scholarships & Alaska Education Grants – Restored $250,000 to scholarships and $125,000 to grants (reversing cuts proposed by the Senate).

PFD

•   Permanent Fund Dividend – Set the 2017 Dividend amount at $1,100 per Alaskan (about half the amount if that state followed the historical formula).

Law

•   Criminal Division – Restored $244,000 in funding for two prosecutor positions in Anchorage.

Public Safety

•   State Troopers – Increased funding for State Troopers.

Health and Social Services

•   Pioneer Homes – Restored $6 million (reversing a cut proposed by the Senate).
•   Senior & Disabilities Services – Restored $304,000 (reversing a cut proposed by the Senate).
•   Medicaid Services – Cut funding by approximately $15 million to incorporate FY18 projected savings included in the Medicaid Reform Bill.

University of Alaska

•   Cut funding by $8 million (partially reversing a $22 million cut proposed by the Senate).

Fund Capitalization

•   Oil and Gas Tax Cash Credits – Funded at $57 million (partially reducing a $77 million cash payment proposed by the Senate). 

Click here for a complete list of “Motion Sheets” which outline the House and Senate items that were discussed for each department.

Over the past three years, the legislature has voted to draw from our savings to fund the budget. Once again, without adopting a responsible action plan to address Alaska’s financial challenges, funding the $4.1 billion operating budget required a draw of approximately $2.6 billion from the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR) savings account. According to the Division of Legislative Finance, the prior draws have reduced the CBR from $13 billion in mid-2014 to approximately $4.4 billion today. Following the $2.6 billion withdrawal for FY18, the balance in the CBR will be approximately $1.8 billion. Economists consistently advise that continued savings draws are not sustainable and budget cuts alone cannot responsibly address Alaska’s financial challenges.

Even though the legislature passed a budget compromise, we have more work to do. The legislature has not approved a capital budget (the capital budget is not on the call for this second special session) and the Governor has asked the legislature to re-visit HB 111, a bill that restructures Alaska’s oil and gas tax credit system. Moving forward, I remain committed to a responsible action plan that addresses Alaska’s financial challenges.

Community Events

Mark your calendar for these upcoming events:

Theatre in Town Square Park
As part of Anchorage Downtown Partnership’s 144 Activities in Town Square, join Midnight Sun Performing Arts each Tuesday and Friday for a free theater class in the park, followed by a free performance from the company at Midnight Sun Performing Arts! Art forms will include improve, puppetry and more.
When: June 27th – August 15th at noon - 2:00 pm, recurring weekly on Tuesday and Friday
Where: Town Square Park
Click here for more information.

Anchorage July 4th Celebration Parade & Festival
When: Tuesday, July 4th at 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Where: Delaney Park Strip

Family fun with two stages of non-stop entertainment until 6:00 pm!
8:00 am Pancake Breakfast: $5 with all proceeds benefitting the Polynesian Assoc. of Alaska, Delaney Park Strip
11:00 am Community and Veterans Parades, Delaney Park Strip
1:00 pm Reading of the Declaration of Independence by Harvard Club, Veterans Memorial Flag Pole
The parade, festival attendance and entertainment is all free. Naturally everything is family friendly.
Click here for more information.

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

Sincerely,

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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