APRIL 9, 2016
Representing District 17:
Midtown, University, and East Anchorage
I Answer to You!
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716 W 4th Ave, Room 412
Anchorage, AK 99501
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Governor Bill Walker
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Congressman Don Young
EMAIL: Rep. Don Young
Anchorage LIO & HB247
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The end of the 90-day session is quickly approaching. Conference committees were appointed by both the House and the Senate earlier this week so we are now in the 24-hour rule. If you are not sure what the 24-hour rule entails here is a short video explaining the rule by journalist Jeremy Hsieh.
There is still much to do before the end of session. Both House and Senate Finance Committees are meeting multiple times per day and some committees are starting to shut down entirely. The most pressing issue is still the budget, though if you looked at some of the bills that have been coming to the floor lately you might not get that impression. With 8 days left and still no clear fiscal plan there is a real chance that the Legislature will not be done within the 90-day limit, costing more to the state during a time of fiscal uncertainty. That is not how a responsible government behaves.
Many of you were likely caught off guard by the news stories reporting that the Alaska Legislative Council had voted 13-1 in favor of buying the controversial Anchorage LIO building for $32.5 million! I was personally baffled by this decision. The reasoning behind the purchase was the argument that buying the building would result in more savings for the state than moving into the Atwood Building since there was the threat of a lawsuit by the developer, as well as costs associated with the Legislature moving into the Atwood.
The issue I believe is not just about the price of the building, but more about how the deal was made. When the Legislature signed the new lease terms the deal raised the annual lease bill to $3.4 million over the $682,000 that we had been paying. Alaska law allows state leases to be extended for up to a decade, but only if they result in the state paying at least 10 percent below market value as established by an appraisal or a real estate broker’s opinion of value. Judge Patrick McKay rejected the legislature’s argument that the no-bid lease was an extension instead deciding that the lease was “undoubtedly a different lease instrument” from the original 2004 contract since the renovated offices have undergone vast changes.
When we are asking Alaskans to start to contribute to state government in the form of taxes or reduced PFD amounts we should not be spending money on such a lavish building. Fiscal responsibility needs to start with us.
The oil and gas tax credit bill (HB 247) has moved out of House Resources into Finance. In House Resources, a bill was introduced that would have saved the state over $1 billion over three years. That committee, however, despite dozens of amendments by me and others, reduced the bill to a savings of a mere $160 million over three years. This altered version of HB 247 essentially maintained our state’s overly-generous system of tax credits to the oil and gas industry. To be clear, even if we were in a generous mood, this is completely unsustainable. Now in Finance, HB 247 has been re-written yet again and is expected to provide slightly more savings than the Resources version but still not as much as the original bill. House Finance is taking up amendments in the next couple days and we hope to see it on the floor soon!
UPDATE: House Finance completed its work late last night on HB 247. The bill is expected to save only about 10% of the Governor’s original bill. In short, HB 247 is not much of a “reform” and if it cannot be further improved on the House Floor, I am almost certainly going to vote “no”, on the bill.
U-Med Land Use Plan
There will be a short Open House on Thursday, April 14th, from 4-5:30pm at 4700 Elmore Road, Training Room to discuss the current Anchorage Bowl Land Use Plan and how it will affect the U-Med district. It will be a great opportunity to learn about future plans for the district as well as the city as a whole.
What: U-Med Area Land Use Plan Open House
When: April 14th from 4-5:30 pm
Where: 4700 Elmore Road, Training Room
As always, please call or email with any thoughts, ideas, or concerns.
I Answer to You!
Representative Andy Josephson
State Capitol Bldg., Room 430