Override the Vetoes for Our Health and Safety

I was very sorry to see the governor veto programs that keep Alaskans healthy. One of these programs is the Medicaid Adult Preventative Dental, which provides dental benefits to over 30,000 Alaskans. If you or someone you know are eligible and need dental care, I encourage you to seek out care immediately as the program expires September 30.

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Your Advocacy Made A Difference

Fall appears to be upon us in the Capital City, and though we are not in session, I wanted to give you a short update on the the governor’s vetoes of programs and projects in House Bill 2001. HB2001 passed the legislature with a total of 40 (out of 60) votes, showing widespread and bipartisan legislative support.

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Working Together in Difficult Times

Vetoes, Pioneer Homes Rate Increases, and the Loss of A Colleague
On Tuesday, after having taken significant actions last week, the legislature adjourned the second special session of 2019. Just yesterday, with the ball in his court, the governor acted, vetoing nearly $35 million in projects and programs from the capital budget. Along with the Pioneer Home rate increases approved by the administration this week, and the great loss of Senator Birch, it was a week for contemplation and decisions on how to move forward.

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The Work Ahead

This week has been one of a lot of action in the Alaska Legislature — and at the bargaining table — as well as a week of continuing anxiety among thousands of Alaskans.

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Taking Steps Forward

Try as we might to reach a solution, the legislature is still in session wrestling with tough decisions that have huge impacts on Alaska’s economy and finances. In summary, a bi-partisan majority in the House this week restored most of the vetoes and approved payment of a $1,600 PFD.

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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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