Above: Rep. Wool poses for a photo with Senator Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Grier Hopkins
Dear Friends, Neighbors, and Fellow Fairbanksans,
Greetings from Juneau. It's been a busy week. I've heard from many of you over the last week about the Governor's budget- thank you for reaching out to me. Let's continue the conversation this Sunday at a community meeting: Myself and Rep Grier Hopkins (Dist 4) will be hosting a community meeting this Sunday at the Blue Loon from 2:30-4pm. We will give you our take what’s happening, or not happening, in Juneau right now.
Community Meeting with Representatives Hopkins and Wool
Sunday, February 24th, 2019
2:30pm - 4:00pm
at the Blue Loon in Ester
Stop in to hear an update and share your questions and concerns. I hope to see you there.
As many of you know I share your concerns about the release of Gov. Dunleavy’s budget. Shock waves from this budget are felt all over the state, with massive cuts to almost every department and agency. He also proposed to reorganize many departments and their functions which has many people digging deeper to see what all the implications are. The main thrust is that he cut somewhere in the vicinity of $1.8 Billion from last year’s budget, including large cuts to K-12 education ($300M), Health and Social Services ($700M) and the University. These kinds of cuts are unprecedented and unacceptable. The University for example has a proposed cut of $135M (40%) from last year’s budget which would absolutely devastate that institution. At the UA Rally on the Capitol Steps last week, I spoke in support of our University. Watch the video on my facebook page here.
I urge you not to take the Gov’s budget at face value, and to remember that this is just the first step. I can assure you this budget will be radically changed from what you’re seeing at first glance. The House Finance committee will start going over the budget very soon and may just replace the Gov’s budget with a new one without the draconian cuts.
The other takeaway from the budget is that although many departments and state services will be drastically cut, the current PFD amount is slated to be the full statutory amount of close to $3,000. This is almost double what it was last year, and is the highest amount ever recorded. Is this the right action, especially considering our state’s financial situation? I’d have to say “NO”.
This all may come down to what we as Alaskans value more, our current level of state services (K-12 Education, Health, University, Roads, Safety etc.) or a bigger PFD check. We have the funds to pass a fully funded budget given our current level of revenue as long as we don’t pay out a large PFD.
Also this week we handed out our committee assignments. I am currently the co-chair of Labor and Commerce, co-chair of Transportation, member of Judiciary committee and member of State Affairs committee. It’s going to be a very busy session.