Rep. Scott Kawasaki

Share on Facebook   June 12, 2017

Special Session Progress Report

Dear Neighbors,

Rep. Kawasaki stands with AHMC Members at the Keep Alaska Open Rally on the Capitol Steps on Sunday
Rep. Kawasaki stands with AHMC Members at the Keep Alaska Open Rally on the Capitol Steps on Sunday

Endless Session? Need Progress Now!

As the First Special Session of the 30th Alaska Legislature reaches its final week, some progress has been made to avert a government shutdown on July 3rd. But we need to have legislators willing to compromise to make that happen.

The Operating Budget Conference Committee has finalized most parts of the budget. However, many pieces still need work that are crucial for Alaskans, including disagreement over the 5.7% cut to K-12 education and 5% cut to the University. The Committee is scheduled to meet today, Monday the 12th, at 4:00pm.

My colleagues and I on the House Finance Committee will also look at the concepts of a head tax, SB 12 as introduced by my Republican Senate colleague Click Bishop starting at 1:30pm today, Monday the 12th. You can tune in online at this link when these meetings are live or you can go to your local Legislative Information Office.

This weekend, I worked around the clock with my colleagues on the House Finance Committee to pass out thecapital budget, which will come before the House Floor for a vote this week. The capital budget pays for one-time items, roads, rails, runways and schools. This budget made sure $248 million of state savings were not paid out to oil companies, as proposed by the Senate. It simply doesn’t make sense to spend that kind of money when education, public safety, infrastructure and the University continue to struggle from recent years’ cuts.

Conference Committees for the Permanent Fund Restructure bill (SB 26) and the bill to eliminate cash subsidies to oil companies (HB 111) are also working to agree on these important pieces of a fiscal plan.

The Need to Diversify Revenue

Oil prices continue to show unpredictability while it dipped below $50 per barrel again last week. Since January of 2015, aside from a couple minor hikes, the monthly average price of oil has stayed below $55 per barrel for the longest time in more than a decade. New production lags behind the million barrels of oil promised under the oil tax changes from a few short years ago. Many economists have shown the state cannot break out of the $2.7 billion deficit until oil prices reach more than $100 a barrel, which is not forecasted any time soon. It’s too costly for the state to wait it out this time.

As Alaska economist Knapp pointed out in this informative article last week, it is clear Alaska is long overdue in reducing our dependence solely on oil revenue.

As I attended the Keep Alaska Open rally on the Capitol Steps yesterday, we heard from public educators that the quality of Alaskans’ education should not rise and fall with oil prices. I agree. That’s why the Alaska House Majority Coalition sent a fully funded budget and comprehensive fiscal plan to the Senate months ago to consider. We need a fully-funded budget, to diversify our revenue resources and reduce our future liability toward oil companies so we can put more of our state investments behind jobs, infrastructure and most importantly, Alaska’s future: our children.

After 3 straight years of cuts that amount to more than $3 Billion, we are hearing from Alaskans the state simply can’t cut any further without drastically harming the services they provide. The Senate’s proposed $750 million in cuts over three years is unfounded, illogical and impossible to do without harming this great state.The budget is a blueprint for the kind of Alaska we want to live in: it should reflect our values of quality education, safe communities and a robust economy.

Rep. Kawasaki discusses the capital budget in House Finance Committee on Saturday
Rep. Kawasaki discusses the capital budget in House Finance Committee on Saturday

As the Executive Branch issued layoff notices 30 days in advance of a possible shutdown, they also issued further detail about how a failure to pass a budget would impact government services. You can read more online here and here. However, the impacts will also be felt by Alaska businesses, non-profit organizations and visitors to the state.

The public still needs to continue adding their voice to the process. Check out the House versus Senate fiscal plans. One plan continues to cut services and relies heavily on savings. One plan ensures that essential services are protected and that we balance our budget. Let your Senator andRepresentative know where you stand.

As always, please feel free to contact me any time via e-mail, telephone, mail or social media at the information below. You can also drop by my Fairbanks office, where staff is ready to hear from you or help you with any questions or concerns you have.

Working Hard for Fairbanks Families,

[SIGNED]

Representative Scott Kawasaki
Alaska State Representative
City of Fairbanks

P.S. Follow me on TwitterFacebook Or Instagram.

As your Representative,
I am here to listen and help. Contact me anytime.

Rep.Scott.Kawasaki@akleg.gov
 
www.RepScottKawasaki.com
 
IN JUNEAU:
Phone: (907) 465-3466
FAX: (907) 465-2937
State Capitol Building
Juneau, AK 99801

IN FAIRBANKS:
Phone: (907) 456-7423
1292 Sadler Way
(AlaskaUSA Credit Building)
Fairbanks, AK 99701
 
Toll Free: (866) 465-3466

Voice your opinions!
Here are some ways to let your voice be heard regarding issues important to you.

Write a Letter to the Editor - submit up to a 350 word letter to the Fairbanks News Miner via their website:
http://newsminer.com

Contact the Governor
Governor Walker's Fairbanks office may be reached at 451-2920, or e-mail him. You can also visit the state website at alaska.gov

Contact your
Congressional Delegation

Senator Dan Sullivan
Fairbanks Office:
101 12th Avenue, # 328
Fairbanks, AK 99701
(907) 456-0261 or Email

Congressman Don Young
100 Cushman St., #307
Key Bank Building
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701
(907) 456-0210 or Email

Senator Lisa Murkowski
Fairbanks Office:
101 12th Avenue, # 329
Fairbanks, AK 99701
907-456-0233 or Email