Representative Louise Stutes-House District 32-Proudly Serving Kodiak, Cordova, and Yakutat.
I want your voice heard
Please share your opinions, concerns, or suggestions with me. Together we can make government work for you.
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MAY 18th, 2017
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The budget and how solve our fiscal gap are first and foremost on the minds of many concerned Alaskans. As you would expect, the Legislature’s top priority is getting Alaska back on a path of fiscal sustainability and long-term economic prosperity.
As part of our work here in Juneau to address the State’s multi-billion dollar deficit, we hear presentations daily from economists, the administration, the Legislative Finance Division, independent research organizations, and consultants on the different options before us. Accompanying these presentations are a lot of data and research reports. With all of the news outlets, radio shows, blogs, social media content, and online documents, it can be difficult to find the information you are looking for.
As such, I feel it is important to pass these resources along to you, my constituents, so that you have an easy way to access and review the same documents that the Legislature has.
Below, you will find a link to some unfiltered information and reports from a variety of sources on a lot of the different options being considered, as well as what the anticipated effects will be on the economy and Alaskan families. I hope this page will be useful to you and your family to stay informed and reach your own decision on what is right for Alaska:
Special Session Update
As predicted in my update earlier in the week, the Legislature has gone into overtime.
The House and Senate both adjourned last night and were called back into special session by Governor Walker. During special session, the Legislature is limited to working on items that the Governor has placed on the call. Those items are:
The special session has a limit of 30 days, but I am optimistic that we will not require that full time period to reach a consensus. The House Majority and the Senate were supportive of a 10-day extension rather than a 30-day special session; however, with the 18-member House Minority vowing to oppose such a measure, we did not have the support to meet the two-thirds vote requirement.
I regret that we were not able to finish on time, but leaving these items on the table for another year - burning through our savings at a rate of $8 million per day and kicking the can down the road - is not an option we are willing to accept.
How We Got Here
The bottom line is that the House supports a complete, fair, and comprehensive plan that solves our deficit this year. Meanwhile, the Senate is supportive of a plan that only utilizes the most regressive option, restructuring the Permanent Fund. This plan leaves over a $500 million budget hole. In order to fill that hole, the Senate plans on an additional $500 million in cuts to unidentified state services. The problem with that approach is that both the House and the Senate are having difficulties finding large additional cuts from a budget that has been cut 44 percent since FY2013. In rural Alaska, we need a functioning marine highway system, a good education for our children, plowed roads, maintained ports and harbors, and robust fisheries management; furthermore, expert testimony has clearly shown that cuts result in more job loss and detriment to the economy than a broad-based tax.
The House passed its comprehensive 4-pillar plan to the Senate over a month ago. The Senate voted down the income tax and gutted our oil and gas tax credit reform bill, HB 111, dismantling two pillars of our plan. At the same time, the Senate included an additional $288 million appropriation to oil companies for tax credits. Given that the Senate did not pass any form of a broad-based tax or a strong version of an oil and gas tax credit reform bill, we will not support this large payment to oil companies.
The House does not feel that a “Permanent Fund restructuring only” plan, coupled with irresponsible cuts to essential services, is fair to Alaskans, and specifically to those living in the rural areas of our state.
I will keep you updated as things progress. Please stay patient, informed, and engaged. We are in active negotiations with the Senate and I am hopeful that we will reach a compromise soon that is fair to you, my constituents.