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Rep. Adam Wool's 
E-News Update:
Time to Work Together

 

 

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Adam listens to testimony on HB2001, (restoring funding to the State Operating Budget,) last Wednesday in Fairbanks. 

 



Dear Friends, Neighbors, and Fellow Fairbanksans, 
 

First, I want to thank everyone again for hanging in there during this incredibly stressful and tough time. Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts and concerns with me. Today, the House voted to pass a PFD bill. As you read this, the bill is making its way to the Senate. 

The amount of the PFD on HB2003 is $1600. Is this an amount I support? Not necessarily, but we have been asked to compromise and I believe this is a reasonable compromise. We had a bill earlier this special session that allowed for a “surplus” PFD which would have paid a PFD check with the amount of funds left over after we pay a reasonable budget. This bill provides for a higher PFD of $1600 and makes everyone compromise. 

The operating budget we proposed and was passed by both bodies was reasonable. It had cut $190M from the previous years budget and still have leftover funds for about a $1000 PFD. The Governor vetoed an additional $440M. These vetoes would devastate the Alaskan economy, decimate the University, cause massive job losses, cause many people to leave, increase local property taxes, reduce many services to homeless and less fortunate citizens, eliminate the State Arts Council and the list goes on. Some of these effects are already being felt across the State, with the State Arts Council closing their doors, and patients struggling to receive needed medical and dental care, among other effects. We heard from thousands of people who vehemently opposed these unprecedented budget reductions from the Governor and supported a reduced PFD, one that is less than the statutory formula that would allow for a PFD this year of $3000. We have heard the same from many organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, the Alaska Bankers Association, the Rasmussen Foundation, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, and many more groups.

We recently passed HB2001 which reinstates many of the proposed cuts but still keeps about $90M of the Governor's cuts in place. Namely, it reduces his proposed cut of $130M to the University to a $20M cut, which is already added to the $5M cut that the Legislature passed. The total $25M cut to the University is not trivial, but it is a compromise that I can accept. This budget also maintains a 50% cut to the school bond debt reimbursement which totals about $50M in cuts.

The current proposal maintains $90M of the Governor’s proposed $440M in total cuts, sweeps the SBR of $170M to add to the PFD and also funds the capital budget with CBR funds, freeing up another $170M to the pfd. The last two moves require a ¾ vote in each body. The bill has already passed in the Senate, and the house will vote on Monday and will hopefully get the 30 needed votes. This will leave us with enough for a $1600 PFD this year. That being said, some of the funds will have come from savings so it highlights how we’ll have to fix the formula for future years. We don’t want to draw from savings and we don’t want to overdraw the POMV model.

 

Again, this is a compromise. It is not the full statutory formula but it’s not a $929 surplus dividend either. Also, it doesn’t cause us to break the structured draw limitations in statute that were passed with SB26, which allows us to take only 5.25% of the market value of the Permanent Fund from the earnings reserve account to fund state services. In other words, we’ll still have a balanced budget this year and pay out a $1600 PFD. This number is also something the Senate can get behind and vote for hopefully as soon as this coming Monday.

 

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Yesterday, the House voted to restore $110 million to the University. Watch my floor speech about the University and how vital it is to our community and our local economy here

 

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Members of the House Finance committee listen to public testimony in Wasilla on July 16. 60% of public testimony in Wasilla favored restoring funding to what the Governor vetoed. 

 


What's Left: Capital Budget Vote on Monday


There are a few things that the Legislature must still do before adjourning from this special session. The Senate unanimously passed the capital budget bill, and now the House will vote again on it.


On Monday, we will hopefully get the needed 30 votes to pass a capital budget that will be funded by the CBR (constitutional budget reserve). We must also have the needed 30 votes to enact a reverse sweep. This reverse sweep will allow the funds that were removed on June 30th to be replenished, and will also reinstate programs like the Higher Education Fund (which houses the AK Scholarship program), the PCE fund (power cost equalization fund) which subsidizes rural electricity, and even more funds that were lost in the sweep. That means that Monday is a big day down here in Juneau.

Please stay tuned and engaged. Your encouragement and support for HB2002 (the capital budget) in the House makes a difference. In the Senate, your support of HB2001 (restoring funding to the budget) and HB2003 (PFD bill) is being heard as well.

I know that the last few weeks have bombarded everyone with more detailed information than is normal, and we have been asking a lot of everyone to call, write, and testify during the busy summer months. I hear you and thank you for staying so engaged. The bottom line is this:

  • We must fight these awful budget vetoes and be able to restore funding now and in the future if the Governor makes further vetoes. 
  • We must pass a capital budget and enact the reverse sweep.
  • We must address the PFD issue and we are doing that by first passing a compromise PFD of $1600.


Hopefully soon we can address the underlying issues at stake here, including how much we fund important State services and how much we invest in the future. People say we should tighten our belts and cut expenses, and we have done that. In the past 5 years, we have cut $1 Billion from the operating budget. We have been finding efficiencies and this budget cuts another $275M. Most importantly, the PFD formula must be a part of this discussion so that we don’t have to go through this every year and can move on as a state. That would allow us to address other issues like adding more state revenue, improving our economy and our education system, combating crime, homelessness and substance abuse, and so much more. Many people have expressed this sentiment, including the 9 hours of testimony taken last week in Fairbanks where I overwhelmingly heard the message to restore the Governor’s funding cuts and reduce the PFD. That is what we are fighting for in these three bills (HB 2001, SB 2002, and HB 2003,) and it is what we will keep fighting for.  

The time is now for us to work together, make the compromises we need to make, and fight for a strong future for Alaska. 

 

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Adam takes his seat as the newest member of the House Finance Committee

 


Upcoming Fairbanks Events 
 


Tonight, July 26, you can enjoy Wine and Peonies at the Georgeson Botanical Garden. The event begins at 5:30pm, and tickets are available at the event for $50. This annual fundraiser for the garden features red and white wines and heavy hors d'oeurves. Guests get to take home a bouquet of freshly cut peonies from the garden. 

Enjoy the 27th Annual Outdoor 
Summer Shakespeare performance of Macbeth at Jack Townshend Park at UAF. Showtimes are:
Tonight and tomorrow, Friday and Saturday July 26 and 27 at  7:30 PM
Closing performance Sunday July 28 at 2 PM
 
On Monday, July 29th at 7:00PM go to 
Down Memory Lane with Dr. Phyllis Morrow, Professor of Anthropology and Dean of UAF College of Liberal Arts (1987-2007) at the Murie Building Auditorium on the UAF campus.
 
It’s Fair time!! The 
Tanana Valley State Fair is August 2 to August 11.  Tuesday, August 6th is UAF Day. Wear your UAF apparel or show your UAF ID card to get $1 off admissions.

 

 

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Contact me with your questions, concerns, and ideas. You can always reach me at rep.adam.wool@akleg.gov and at 907-452-6084. We are back in Fairbanks for the interim, so feel free to stop by the Fairbanks Legislative Information Office or call to make an appointment with my staff. 

 

 

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