| May 12, 2017
Fiscal Plan Progress Update
Dear friends and neighbors,
The 121-day Constitutional end-of-session deadline is fast-approaching and progress has slowed dramatically. We are starting to hear of some movement in the Senate, but actions on HB115, the Education Funding Act, have become a challenge.
In these waning days of the regular (extended) session, there are a lot of issues still yet to consider, however, by far the biggest item is resolution of a fiscal plan for Alaska’s future. That is what I will be focusing on in this newsletter.
Fiscal Plan Progress Update
As we work towards a comprehensive fiscal plan, the House Finance Committee has held hearings on the House proposal. The hearings included in-depth analysis from budget and economics experts and input from a wide variety of stakeholders, such as the Alaska Children’s Trust, the realty industry, regional tribal nonprofits, and the banking industry. The testimony we heard showed widespread support for a fiscal plan that is comprehensive and diversified.
In the House Majority, we are most interested in developing a sustainable plan that will balance the fiscal impact across as many people as possible. This concept is critical for moving our state forward. Any plan that does not include broad-based progressive revenue, or relies too heavily on volatile oil prices is risky, will not provide the fiscal stability that our economy needs. We also need to provide options for future expenses such as increasing healthcare costs and deferred maintenance in our public facilities.
In order to reduce our risk, Alaska needs a diversified revenue stream that, by necessity, will need to include a broad-based tax. To that end, the House has forwarded House Bill 115, the Education Funding Act. HB 115, as one of the four pillars of the House Majority fiscal plan, is an important piece to a solution that limits and balances impacts to Alaskans and out-of-state workers who earn income in Alaska.
By passing a plan that asks everyone to contribute, significantly reduces the deficit, and provides for essential state services, we can provide Alaska with a responsible path to sustainability. I support the House plan because it protects the Permanent Fund principal and still provides for an annual dividend. Our plan prioritizes critical services for Alaskans and will provide fiscal stability in Alaska’s economy.
• Juneau Jazz & Classics: Check out the list of events and buy tickets here.
One we finish with session, I will be scheduling time to travel around the district, and I look forward to visiting with northern southeast residents. Please contact my office if you have any questions or comments, I always appreciate hearing from you.