OPINION: Time to Make Tough Choices for Alaska

Rep. Adam Wool

As the legislative session gets ready to start on Tuesday, it seems everybody is talking about the state budget deficit. As I see it, the state is like a cardiac patient who risks a major heart attack. His doctor tells him to quit smoking, lose weight, change his diet, exercise and take his meds. The patient asks, “What if I lose weight first and then try the other stuff?” This won’t cut it, there is no one silver bullet and the patient needs to address all these issues.

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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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NEWS: Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Supports Legislation to Remove Unneeded Partner from AKLNG Natural Gas Pipeline Project

JUNEAU – Today, the Alaska House of Representatives joined the Alaska Senate in approving legislation funding the buyout of TransCanada from the long-awaited AKLNG natural gas pipeline project. Removing TransCanada from the AKLNG partnership increases the state of Alaska’s total ownership share in the pipeline and associated infrastructure up to twenty-five percent.

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Rep. Wool’s Newsletter: Public Comment Needed TODAY and Third Special Session Update

Rep. Wool Newsletter

On October 24 the Legislature started the third special session of the year. This session is dedicated to the AK LNG natural gas pipeline project. Governor Walker has proposed buying out TransCanada’s interest in this project. Under the law passed under former Governor Parnell, TransCanada is contracted to manage Alaska’s ownership in this project, but Governor Walker believes it would be better for Alaska to buyout this contract and represent itself. I am inclined to agree, but I am committed to making sure this is the best decision to make sure a pipeline gets built and brings gas to Alaskans. Building the pipeline is probably more important to Fairbanks than anywhere else in the state. Although heating oil may be at a low price now it will surely be higher sometime in the future so a good reliable source of cheap natural gas is essential. Fairbanks would also welcome a huge boost to the economy resulting from the construction of a megaproject like a gas pipeline. I will work hard to make sure this happens.

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NEWS: Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Ready for the Gasline Special Session

ANCHORAGE – The third Special Session of the 29th Alaska Legislature is scheduled to start Saturday morning with House and Senate floor sessions. Governor Bill Walker has scheduled a briefing for all lawmakers Saturday afternoon to outline the details of the three pieces of legislation that will be under consideration. The members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition (AIDC) are looking forward to the Governor’s detailed briefing but are dismayed by today’s announcement from the Senate President and the Speaker of the House that members of the House Finance and Senate Resources Committee’s will be encouraged to skip the briefing in favor of committee hearings on the same subjects at the same exact time as the Governor’s briefing.

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NEWS: Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Disappointed Legislative Council Fails to Withdraw Medicaid Expansion Lawsuit

ANCHORAGE – Earlier today, the Alaska State Legislature’s Republican-controlled Legislative Council failed to withdraw its ill-advised lawsuit against Governor Bill Walker over his decision to accept federal funds to expand eligibility for the Medicaid program in Alaska. The Legislative Council, which only includes one member of the minority in the House and Senate, met behind closed doors in Anchorage to discuss the Council’s lawsuit. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Council took no action. The result of this inaction is that the lawsuit will continue.

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