April 10, 2018
Legislative Session Coming to an End
Rep. Kawasaki in discussion on the House Floor
Since January, I have pushed for a quick and efficient legislative session. As we approach the voter supported 90-day limit, I am increasingly hopeful that we will wrap up business on time. We are waiting on the Senate to pass the budget before we can enter those end-of-session negotiations.
I have heard from school districts, the business community and industry leaders that the most important way to improve the economy is to pass a timely budget. An on-time budget helps instill confidence into the Alaska economy. The House budget improves funding for public safety and education. These investments will protect Fairbanks families from crime and continue building the economy into the next generation.
What does a timely budget look like?
The budget is not just a financial document. It is a moral document that must reflect the values and priorities of all Alaskans.
- Pays $1,600 PFD to all Alaskans – that is $500 more than the 2017 PFD.
- Inflation-proofing for the Permanent Fund for the first time in three years so that the fund continues growing into the future.
- Continued fisheries monitoring so that commercial, sport and personal use fishermen can harvest fish for their livelihoods and the family dinner table.
- The slightly increased budget from last year to address the increased crime rates and increased poverty during this multi-year recession.
- Despite this, the state operating budget has been decreased by almost $900 million since 2014, a nearly 30 percent reduction.
- With cuts still being sustained by the court system, some aspects of public safety, water and food testing and transportation, this is a responsible and balanced budget, with millions of dollars being cut through careful consideration.
My Commitment to Education
Rep. Kawasaki greets students in the House Gallery with Jolly Ranchers from his House Floor candy drawer.
I was happy to meet with School District teachers and staff this week in Juneau. As a graduate of Fairbanks public schools and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, sustainable, predictable, adequate education funding to provide resources to teachers and students has been my top priority. The House passed an early K-12 education funding bill within the first three weeks of session. Education is an investment that comes in many forms. To create a competitive Alaskan workforce, we need everything from Pre-K to the University of Alaska and hands-on career training. Now, with just days left of the 90-day session, the Senate has yet to pass the “early” funding of education for the upcoming year, but I have confidence legislators will come together to avoid pink slips to teachers.
Here is a list of education bills I am prioritizing this Legislature:
- My pre-kindergarten bill, HB 52, would expand early education to all Alaska school districts.
- HB 339 would increase the Base Student Allocation (BSA) by $100 per student to reduce class sizes and increase opportunities. This bill is expected to pass the House this week.
- HB 287 funds education early in the year. HB 287 had been delayed by the Senate since the third week of the session.
- HB 406 would help schools maximize their educational resources through consolidation while maintaining steady funding.
- HB 213 would allow the Public School Trust Fund to be managed for a higher rate of return, increasing the amount that is available for students. This bill passed the House last month and will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee this week.
Check out my comments in the latest House Majority Coalition press conference!
Working Hard for Fairbanks Families,
Representative Scott Kawasaki
Alaska State Representative
City of Fairbanks
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