Working Towards Compromise

This week the House Finance Committee heard from thousands of Alaskans from across the state and from all walks of life about the governor’s vetoes, the state budget, and the PFD. Many citizens pleaded with the legislature to protect programs and services they care deeply about. Others spoke of the need for further cuts. Various testifiers recommended paying a full PFD or, alternately, reducing the PFD to pay for services. Some said it’s time to talk taxes. Regardless of their perspective, it was an impressive showing of diverse Alaskans speaking out about what matters to them, their family, their business, their community, and their state.

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A Crossroads – Not a Dead End

This has been a week of democracy in action! Hundreds of Alaskans in Juneau and thousands across the state have taken the time to express their despair about the vetoes. I appreciate all who have contacted me through email and phone and been moved by those who have personally participated to urge support for vital public services. My heart goes out to those who will be hurt by these cuts.

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Working Hard to Protect What’s Important to Alaskans

It has been a tough week. The governor detailed his vetoes last Friday, and from what I see, these vetoes will damage our economy, lead to further job losses, increase local taxes, and harm our most vulnerable citizens. I am working with legislators to find a way to maintain critical public services, keep Alaska a place people want to live and businesses want to invest, and pay a PFD.

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Update on Special Session Week 2

Half of this 30-day special session is over.The big sticking point is the amount and how to pay for this and future Permanent Fund dividends (PFD). Thanks to those who responded to our last newsletter with their thoughts on the dividend. I believe in a “forever dividend.” That means growing our Permanent Fund savings while using some as originally intended: to support public services as oil dollars decline and some for the dividend. Finding that balance is the challenge.

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House passes crime bill; Special Session continues

t has been just over a week since the current special session was called. The first issue the House addressed was public safety. The House voted to pass the bipartisan conference committee crime bill, and I expect the Senate to pass it soon. Another big issue left to resolve is the operating budget, which the legislature needs to pass quickly (and the governor needs to sign) to provide…

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Governor Calls Special Session in Juneau; Crime Bill Nears Completion

Wednesday was the constitutional limit to a regular legislative session, the Legislature adjourned, and a special session in Juneau was called. In the days ahead, we will finalize the operating and capital budgets, vote on crime legislation, and address the permanent fund dividend. The work on each of these issues was nearly complete by the 121st day, but another inning is needed to cross the finish line and do it thoughtfully and thoroughly. The issues are simply too important to rush.

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Senate Passes the Operating Budget

On Wednesday, the Senate passed its version of the operating budget. The House did not concur with the changes made, and a conference committee is being appointed to resolve the differences between the House and Senate budgets. The conference committee’s version will likely blend together ideas from both versions, and then it will go back to the House and Senate for a final vote before it goes to the Governor for final approval.

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Pioneer Homes and Confirmations

We’re working hard to get the budget finalized – it’s now in the Senate for hearings and deliberations. Thanks to all of you who have voiced your thoughts and concerns on the budget throughout this session. You can still send written comments by emailing the Senate Finance Committee at finance.committee@akleg.gov

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House Passes Operating Budget

After many hours of deliberation on the House Floor this week, the House passed its version of the operating budget. It now goes to the Senate for consideration. I am hoping that they maintain full funding of education like the House, and prioritize public safety, and maintain the House’s addition of prosecutors. While some cuts were made, I believe the House budget protects our economy from significant private and public job losses, and provides stability to our communities.

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The operating budget moves forward

To me, our state budget resources our mission and reflects our priorities. This week, the House Finance Committee worked through over 100 amendments to the operating budget, and today they moved the bill from committee. As with any piece of policy or legislation, there are parts of a bill you like and parts that you don’t. My priorities have been: build safer, healthier communities; create and preserve public and private sector jobs; balance the budget in a way that protects critical state services; strengthen educational opportunities for all Alaskans; and help to stabilize Alaska’s economy so businesses will invest in and grow Alaska.

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