NEWS: Pre-filed Bill Seeks to End High Cost Legislator Hotel, Dining, and Special Session Perks

Rep. Les Gara

Anchorage – Today, three members of the Alaska House of Representatives announced that they have pre-filed legislation to stop expensive charges by some legislators for hotels and meals. The bill also bans legislators from claiming per diem payments, which can exceed $200 per day, when Special Sessions are held in their home towns with no actual hotel costs. Last summer, some legislators and staff billed the state over $400 and $500 per night (including taxes) for hotel rooms in Seattle to attend the annual summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures. This occurred as the state is facing a more than $3 billion budget shortfall.

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NEWS: Rep. Gara Takes Pitch to the Chamber of Commerce Monday – Ways We Can Improve the Lives of Foster Children

Rep. Les Gara

ANCHORAGE — For the past month, Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) has been on what he quips is a “World Tour in His Own Car”, pitching to large and small groups how they can help with Alaska’s exploding numbers of neglected and abused foster children. Just five years ago, Alaska had fewer than 1,800 foster youth. Today, that number has exploded to over 2,800. Rep. Gara is working to help these children to succeed and not face continued excuses and neglect.

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Note from Rep. Gara: Tomorrow: Public Forum, Let Us Hear It!

Rep. Gara Newsletter

The two Chairs of the “Anchorage Caucus” have arranged a public forum at the Assembly Chambers at the Loussac Library, this Saturday (tomorrow) from Noon to 3 p.m. I’d expect most Anchorage-area legislators will attend, and I plan to come to listen to you. If you come, I’d suggest you arrive early to sign in early.

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NEWS: Massive Scope of Proposed Fiscal Changes Demands Thorough Review of Impacts on Alaskans of All Income Levels

ANCHORAGE – Today, Alaska Governor Bill Walker unveiled an ambitious budget plan called “The New Sustainable Alaska Plan” that shifts much of the burden of paying for state government from the oil and gas industry onto the backs of hard-working, average Alaskans. The Governor’s proposal includes fundamental changes to how vital state services in Alaska are funded including new or increased taxes on income, fishing, mining, tourism, alcohol, tobacco, and motor fuel. The Governor’s proposal also makes drastic cuts to vital early education opportunities in Alaska and would result in significantly reduced Permanent Fund Dividends. The 13 members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition thank Governor Walker for his leadership and the public process used to come up with the proposed budget plan but will insist that every proposed change be thoroughly vetted by the Alaska Legislature.

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