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Updates at the End of Session:
Three Big Bills this Week 


Dear friends, neighbors, and fellow Fairbanksans,

Finally, the 30th Alaska State Legislature is winding down and wrapping up. While there are still a few more issues to resolve here in Juneau, including the State budget, this has been a long and productive session. I am proud of what has been accomplished, and optimistic about being able to come home soon. 

 

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Checking out the driver's seat of a fire truck during my "Coffee Talk" meeting on Saturday, April 21.

 

Breaking News: University Funding Negotiations Wrapping Up 
 

I am happy to announce that the State's Operating Budget conference committee is zeroing in on their number for University funding for the coming year. After the Governor proposed flat funding for the UA system, I amended the University budget to add $19 million to the Governor's plan. The Senate added $5 million to the plan, and the conference committee then had to decide on a figure somewhere between these two numbers. Now, they have decided to add $10 million to the Governor's budget, which allows the UA system to cover their basic costs plus invest some money into student advancement projects and growing world class research. This is more than has been budgeted in previous years, and represents a more positive turn for the University and for our community. 

 


Oil Bond Bill and Permanent Fund Restructure Pass Alaska Legislature

We passed two very significant bills this week that will have a big impact on the short and long term future of our State. On Monday we passed HB 331, the oil bond bill. This bill will allow the State to borrow funds to pay off the debt to oil companies that the State has accrued due to the now eliminated program that paid cash to oil companies for tax credits. The companies would agree to discounted pay-off, which would end up causing the program to be cost-neutral. These are smaller oil companies that have debt that could now be paid off allowing them to reinvest in oil development projects. This will create jobs, increase flow of oil in the pipeline, and increase State revenue. This is money the State owes these companies and basically creates a long-term payment plan that will help all parties.

Permanent Fund Restructure Passed to Protect the PFD
The other bill that was passed that is truly a game-changer is Senate Bill 26. This bill will fundamentally change how we fund public services, (also called the government). For years, oil revenue paid for 90% of the State's costs, but in recent years oil revenue fell dramatically, causing the need to dip into savings to pay for essential services. The fund used was the CBR (Constitutional Budget Reserve). That fund is nearly depleted, so we must change how we do business. We have made efforts to cut our State expenses but without any new significant revenue source we will be operating under a deficit for the foreseeable future. What SB 26 does in the latest form is allow for a fixed draw from the body of the permanent fund, which has a value of about $64 billion. For the next two years we will draw 5.25% of that amount and 5% after that. This will help fill our deficit and still allow the permanent fund to grow. The PFD check all Alaskans receive annually will come out of this fixed draw. The bill does not address what the split between the PFD checks and government services will be, but for the current year it has been decided that the PFD checks will be $1600. This bill will lock in the draw amount so that we can't take too much out of the fund and it will preserve the yearly PFD program by not overdrawing the Earnings Reserve, which is portion of the Permanent Fund that funds the checks.


Also, by fixing the draw to 5.25% and then 5% of the market value of the fund (or POMV,) we are allowing the manager of the fund to have predictability in determining their investment strategies.

Even with this draw we will have a shortfall when it comes to funding public services. We still have decisions to make as a Legislature about how to fill the remaining gap. We won’t be able to draw more from the Permanent Fund so we’ll have to address our revenue shortcomings once and for all. This year is the last year that we will be able to draw from the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR,) so we will be forced to come up with a complete fiscal plan.

Although this bill represents a huge change in how we operate, this is a necessary and inevitable change. The Permanent Fund was created to last infinitely, since oil is a finite resource. The fund was created to fund government when oil revenue declined and that is what we are doing now. Maybe oil revenue will greatly increase in the future and and at that time we can re-examine the situation but for now, we must accept this new reality.

 

Congratulations UAF Class of 2018! 
 

Last weekend, all University of Alaska campuses held their commencement ceremonies, including UAF. Once again, congratulations to all the graduates on a job well done. I am excited to see where your next adventure takes you, and know that you will accomplish great things in the years ahead. 
 

 

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Chatting with Coach Norm Davis from U-Park Elementary at the UAF commencement. 
 

 

Senate Bill 76: Alcohol Licensing 


Senate Bill 76, which was the Title 4 rewrite bill, is officially dead. The bill sponsor withdrew his hearing request for the House Finance committee. There’s certainly a lot to say about this bill, including the amendments that were offered and the very limited time that the House had to consider the bill, both of which led to it dying in committee. I will be sure to speak on this issue further after the end of session, which is coming soon. 

For now, you can find more information about the proceedings surrounding SB 76 in this Anchorage Daily News article:

https://www.adn.com/politics/2018/05/10/heres-how-a-fight-between-bar-owners-brewers-and-distillers-sank-a-widely-supported-overhaul-of-alaskas-alcohol-laws/
 

 

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Kyra Aizstrauts is retiring from her position as the Principal of University Park Elementary. As a thank you for her 20 years of dedication to students and our community, the Alaska Legislature has recognized her with an Honorarium, which I asked my wife Kate to present in my absence. Congratulations Kyra! 
 

 

Construction Projects this Summer


We all know the four seasons in Alaska: fall, winter, spring, and construction. This summer, there will be several construction projects in Fairbanks that you might want to keep in mind as you make your plans. 

Construction projects this summer include the following:

Old Steese Highway Reconstruction
This project will widen the bicycle path in order to improve the safety and functionality of this area. Other projects in the area will include intersection improvements, better lighting, utilities improvements, and a better railroad crossing. 

Wendell Avenue Bridge Replacement
This project will replace the Wendell Avenue bridge at the Chena River. The bridge, built in 1953, is in need of structural repairs which are cheaper and easier to address by building a new bridge than by retrofitting the existing bridge. Once finished, the bridge will have improved pedestrian and bicycle access. 

Geist/ University Intersection 
This project will significantly limit traffic in Fairbanks' busiest intersection: Geist/ University. Construction will begin later this month and continue through mid-August. The goal is to resurface the road and widen lanes to decrease crashes, as DOT reports that this is one of Fairbanks' most dangerous intersections. You can read more about this major project at this link: http://www.webcenter11.com/content/news/Fairbanks-busiest-intersection-closing-for-the-summer-481714051.html 

While navigating around ongoing construction can be a challenge, I encourage your patience as crews work to complete these projects in Fairbanks. 

 

 

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Addressing the group during my "Coffee Talk" event at the Ester Firehouse on Saturday, April 21

 

Coffee Talk Thank-You


Thanks to everyone who was able to attend my "Coffee Talk" meeting on Saturday, April 21. It was great to be home and get together to discuss some of the important issues currently facing Alaska. I look forward to talking more with everyone after I get back to Fairbanks.

 

Once again, thank you to everyone who has called, written, and emailed my office this legislative session. I appreciate the feedback and input. Please continue to reach out with your comments, questions, and concerns and I will do my best to respond during this busy time of year. I am looking forward to getting home very soon and spending another wonderful summer season in Fairbanks. 

Best Wishes, 

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Representative Adam Wool 

 

MY OFFICE

SESSION
State Capitol Bldg. Room 412
Juneau, AK 99801
(907) 465-4976

INTERIM
1292 Sadler Way
(AlaskaUSA Credit Building)
Fairbanks, AK 99701
(907) 452-6084

Rep.Adam.Wool@akleg.gov
http://www.repadamwool.com/

Ashley Strauch - Legislative Aide
(907) 465-4976

Ashley.Strauch@akleg.gov

Laura Stidolph - Legislative Aide
(907) 465-6879

Laura.Stidolph@akleg.gov

 

FAIRBANKS - DISTRICT 5

Geist, College, Chena Ridge, Chena Pump, Cripple Creek, UAF Campus, Richardson, and Parks Highway.
 

CONTACT THE GOVERNOR

675 7th Avenue, Suite H5
Fairbanks, AK 99701-4596
T (907) 451-2920 F (907) 451-2858
EMAIL: 
Governor Bill Walker

STATE of ALASKA
http://alaska.gov/
State Info (907) 269-5111

 

WRITE A LETTER
TO THE EDITOR:

Submit up to a 350 word letter to the Fairbanks News Miner via their website: http://newsminer.com.

 


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