Rep. Scott Kawasaki

Share on Facebook   June 23, 2017

Government Shutdown Averted in Compromise Budget

Dear Neighbors,

Rep. Kawasaki working with members on the House floor
Rep. Kawasaki working with members on the House floor

Compromise Budget Passes Legislature

Late last night, the Alaska State House passed a compromise operating budget with a bipartisan vote of 31 to 8. This budget is not ideal, but it is necessary to prevent a government shutdown on July 1 that would have devastated the economy and create unnecessary uncertainty for all Alaskans, visitors and businesses.

After 157 days in session, many ask, why did it take so long to pass a budget? Alaska Dispatch News published a comprehensive article last week that helps answer that question, found here.

Day-to-day government agency operations for next year’s budget total just under $3.7 billion in unrestricted general funds, which is a reduction of $185.9 million from the prior budget. This budget funds the 2017 Permanent Fund Dividend at $1,100 per eligible Alaska resident, which was $100 higher than the Senate version of the bill.

K-12 Education is fully funded at the same level as the current year, which reverses the $69 million cut to education proposed by the Senate. The budget also restores funding for Pre-Kindergarten, Parents as Teachers and Best Beginnings. This compromise is a great win for our children and Alaska’s future, as well as the teachers and educators who can go back to work this fall. While I’m disappointed the University of Alaska will face an $8 million cut, it was a compromise from the $22 million cut originally proposed by the Senate.

But – this year’s job is not done. We can’t come back to this same stalemate next year that could result in another round of pink slips to teachers, public employees and construction workers across the state. A cuts-only “fiscal plan” is not a plan at all: it threatens Alaska’s future and our potential to succeed. Legislators continue to hear about devastating impacts to public safety, ability to open small businesses, construction jobs that put Alaskans to work, education and far more. It’s clear that continued cuts are hurting Alaskans.

The time is NOW for the Alaska House Majority Coalition and the Senate Majority to come together to avoid yet another threat of a government shutdown next year. We can’t wait for endless ‘special sessions’ when the job can be done now. It’s not fair to you or any Alaskan. As I wrote last time, it’s increasingly clear we must diversify our revenue so we don’t rely exclusively on volatile revenue from oil or the stock markets.

What’s Next?

Rep. Kawasaki in House Finance Committee considering fiscal plan proposals
Rep. Kawasaki discusses the capital budget in House Finance Committee on Saturday

After the budget passed last night, Governor Walker added HB 111 back to the special session agenda. This bill would help our budget by eliminating costly cash subsidies paid to oil companies. I am optimistic both sides can find a compromise as it is not fiscally responsible to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars in state savings to oil companies while we continue to face a deep deficit and cut essential services.

While not currently on the Second Special Session agenda, the capital budget, Permanent Fund restructure (SB 26) and a broad-based revenue measure are also still pending.

A comprehensive fiscal plan this year means we can have a responsible, sustainable budget next year without draining savings in an irresponsible way. Sustainable revenue – not just relying on savings – means we can bring more business to Alaska. S&P Credit ratings released a report this week highlighting how diversifying revenue and passing SB 26 could improve the economy and private sector investment. If the state’s credit rating is downgraded again due to a failure to pass a full fiscal plan, more businesses will be driven out of the state. Fiscal stability is already long overdue and the state and the People of Alaska cannot afford to wait any longer.

As the Second Special Session continues, I hope you will continue to reach out to Representatives, Senators and the Governor about your thoughts. You elected us to represent you and part of our job is keeping you updated and aware of the issues at hand and getting your input. Please continue to be in touch via E-mail, phone, Facebook, Twitter and mail, linked below.

This Weekend in Fairbanks

Great Alaskan Foodstock at the Howling Dog
Starting tonight, the Howling Dog in Fox is hosting its 23rd Annual Foodstock, a 3-day live concert to support the Fairbanks Rescue Mission. Learn more online here.

UAF Georgeson Botanical Garden Birthday
The Georgeson Botanical Garden is hosting the birthday party of its namesake, Charles Georgeson, on the UAF campus from 11am to 4pm on Sunday, June 25. It’s a free, family-friendly event in a beautiful summer setting. More information is on Facebook here.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me any time at the information below, or stop by my Fairbanks office where staff is happy to assist you while I continue working in Juneau.

Working Hard for Fairbanks Families,

[SIGNED]

Representative Scott Kawasaki
Alaska State Representative
City of Fairbanks

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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