Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Wow! I am not going to bury the lede here - in an historic vote, the House passed an omnibus education bill.


As you may have seen, late Thursday night the House met once again to debate and amend SB 140, the so-called BAG bill (BAG stands for ‘Broadband Assistant Grant’), also known as Internet in Schools - which is what the bill was originally drafted to address.

 

SB140 had a weird and wild journey to the House floor, but in the end my partners in the House Minority Coalition and friends across the aisle in the Freshman Caucus, as well as numerous other legislators in the House Majority, came together to pass a bill raising the Base Student Allocation, or BSA, by $680 (rather than the $300 preferred by the Governor) along with $500 per student in K-3rd grade who are struggling with reading, and more. The ADN is calling this an historic 38-2 floor vote!


More excitement on Monday at 6pm! Much to my surprise, I learned at the end of the week that the Ways and Means Committee is hearing the high wage earner Income Tax bill (HB156) I wrote AND including public testimony! YOU ARE INVITED! More information below!

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In the Capitol

This was a really big deal!


The BSA increase that we wrote into the SB140 bill Thursday night is a permanent revision to statute (law), which means that unless the Governor vetoes the entire bill (and the Legislature fails to override that veto), this BSA increase will stand not just for fiscal year 2025 (which begins July 1st and runs through next school year), but on into the future. 


This is the first meaningful BSA increase in 10 years, and addressing education funding this early in the legislative session will help school districts currently working on their budgets and facing budget crises statewide to more confidently plan for the future.


With a robust 38 of 40 Representatives in the House voting to pass the bill, it means if the Governor fulfills his earlier threat to veto a BSA increase, we likely have the votes to override his veto.

 

Of course, there are several things that I don’t love about this bill. Importantly, I am disappointed the Base Student Allocation wasn’t raised more to sufficiently protect class size and allow for best practices in teaching and learning. I know many of my constituents share my disappointment that the BSA increase wasn’t bigger, and I want you to know that I hear you and assure you that $680 was the most we were going to pass, with this Governor and the Legislature as it is currently organized. Rest assured that my efforts to increase the BSA further are far from over, and this is just the beginning of a restoration of what was once an excellent Alaska public school system.

 

The bill isn’t a done deal yet. It awaits a concurrence vote in the Senate and signature by the Governor. It is important for education advocates to stay involved and vocal until we see this bill signed by the Governor (or his veto overridden). Since we changed the bill that was first passed by the Senate, the House version goes back to the Senate for an up or down concurrence vote. We expect the Senate to concur.

 

Next up! By passing an education spending increase this early in the Session we are able to move on to other pressing statewide issues, like considering legislation on the anticipated energy shortages in Cook Inlet, reinstating a defined benefit retirement system for public employees, and focusing on passing this year’s budget.

 

Speaking on the House Floor about SB 140

It was an honor to advocate for a lasting increase to the BSA on what turned out to be an emotional night for many of us.

The final vote on SB 140


We usually talk about seeing and wearing "Red for Ed(ucation)", but on Thursday night I was overjoyed to see a sea of green on the voting roll call board as 37 other members of the House voted together for a BSA increase.

Oh, what a night...


Representative Ashley Carrick of Fairbanks snapped this great selfie late on Wednesday night during a break in a lengthy House Floor session, long before our eventual progress on the Education bill.


Pictured are many of the legislators and legislative staff members who do the work, often behind the scenes, to keep our government working and strong. Can you spot me in the mix?


Thank you to every one of these wonderful and hard working Alaskans for all you did to make this week a success.

...Other Bills on the Move...

 

House Bill 156: State Income Tax Public Testimony


In short, HB156 would create a 2% tax on income above $200,000 per year for Alaskans and those who live outside Alaska but make that money here. Everyone else would pay just $20 a year, as part of what's traditionally called a 'head tax'.


That's it. That's the whole idea.


This level of state income tax, focused predominantly on high-level earners, is estimated to generate approximately $120-150 million per year in new revenue for the State - revenue which can go to fund education, provide basic essential support services to everyday Alaskans, and help stabilize our budget.


4 Reasons I prefer an income tax to a sales tax:


  1. Sales taxes are more regressive than income taxes - they hit poor families the hardest because sales taxes touch every single purchase a family makes, instead of that same family paying a straightforward $20 per person per year;
  2. Sales taxes create complications given how they tangle with the over 100 Alaska municipalities with current local sales taxes;
  3. Regional price disparities would disproportionately hurt rural residents if a sales tax is put in place;
  4. The impact on non-residents is different:
  • Income Tax affects Visiting Workers - taxes on wages and earnings in Alaska are often subject to income tax in their resident state if not taxed by Alaska
  • Sales Tax affects Tourists - placing a competitive disadvantage on tourist industry's marketing efforts

Please consider calling or coming in to testify and share your thoughts on my bill. Also, HB 143, Representative Ben Carpenter’s State Sales Tax bill will be up for public testimony (they’re being heard on the same night). Check out details on that hearing in the POP: Public Opportunity for Participation, below. And check out my POP video, here.

Stop and POP! It's a Public Opportunity for Participation!

WHAT: Bill Hearing in House Ways and Means Committee


WHEN: THIS(!) Monday, February 26th, from 6-7:30pm Alaska Time (after work!)


WHERE: Alaska State Capitol Building, Room Davis 106 (first floor) or by phone from your home or local LIO


WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE: House Ways and Means (Special Committee) 2/26/2024 Meeting Page (<- this is a link! Click it!)


WHO: You! And your friends! And neighbors! Any Alaskan who wants to weigh in on the idea of a state income tax or state sales tax will be able to sign up to testify and given two minutes to provide their comments to the committee.


For more info or questions: you can reach out to my staffer Meredith Trainor via Meredith.Trainor@akleg.gov, and she’ll keep you in the loop.

Every Voice Matters -

Meetings with Alaskans

It was a joy to meet with many, many constituents and fellow Alaskans between long stretches on the House Floor and in the Finance Committee this week. These meetings give me hope for Alaska’s future, clear understanding of Alaskan expectations from government, and they bring me joy and energy!

 

Please, keep calling, keep writing, keep coming in and down to Juneau to make your wishes known, and ask your government to answer questions and ask for the Alaska we all deserve. You can reach out to my staff to set up a time to meet or to talk by phone. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of Alaska District 14, and am always honored to represent you.


Below are some highlights from this week:

Teen Ambassadors

Teen members from Anchorage Taylor and Roey, visited to share their life experiences, their passions and support needs as young persons living in Anchorage, They would like to see more mental health education and services in schools. They shared about the importance of teen council and the realities of current mental health crisis among their peers in Alaskan schools right now.



Doyon, the Native regional corporation for Interior Alaska

Sarah Obed, Senior Vice President for External Affairs, and Molly Redilla, VP of Lands, dropped by to share an update regarding Doyon's projects and expanding participation in the voluntary carbon market via several interesting forestry projects!

Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

 Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (ANDSVA)’s Brenda and Lauree are seeking financial support for a variety of services, including; Direct Victim Services, Child Advocacy Center Grants, Legal and Mental Health Enhanced Services, Prevention Services and Programs for Men Who Abuse. CDVSA have 26 direct service program grantees, whose funds have been flat funded for the past 5 years. Requesting an increase to cover wage and utility expenses seems reasonable. Join me in recognizing and supporting are friends around the state working in the field of domestic violence support.



City of Kodiak

City of Kodiak; Mayor Pat Branson and City Council Member Bob shared City of Kodiak Resolution of Fiscal Year 25 State Capital Improvement List, including the Kodiak St. Herman Harbor Floats Replacement Planning is line with the harbor’s demand versus their current limited capacity. Mayor Branson shared the City of Kodiak’s Long-Range Transport Plan of Dec 2022, and Governor Dunleavy’s Administrative Order No. 341 to increase food security, strengthen local economies and lessen Alaska’s dependence on external foods and supply chains, together with the 2023 Alaska Food Security and Independence Task Force Report.


Municipality of Anchorage

Municipality of Anchorage assembly members Anna, Felix and Zac visited with a message centered on concerns and legislative priorities regarding the port, homelessness and related shelter being able to operate during the summer months along with behavioral health services and supports. We also discussed the energy concerns in Anchorage and the rail belt.

Youth Action Board on Housing and Homelessness

Royal and Aurora with the Youth Action Board spoke with staff about their knowledge of housing struggles and homelessness, specifically advocating that the Special Needs Housing Grant (SNHG) and the Basic Homeless Assistance Program (BHAP) be moved into the Mental Health Trust budget and that it no longer be flat-funded, which would better help these two important funds which support housing for unhoused individuals to be responsive to recent inflation.

Cancer Action Network / American Cancer Society

Cancer Action Network’s Valerie, Jessica and Jane shared the latest efforts of the American Cancer Society’s support for SB 89 Sponsored by Senator Stevens and others, which proposes raising minimum age to purchase, exchange or possess electronic smoking products (e cigs) to 21 years, in line with Federal law and taxing e cigs (currently not taxed). Guests are highly concerned about the vaping epidemic of minors and shared 1 e cig is equivalent to 3 packets of cigarettes.

Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault

ANDVSA are seeking financial support for a variety of services, including; Direct Victim Services, Child Advocacy Center Grants, Legal and Mental Health Enhanced Services, Prevention Services and Programs for Men Who Abuse. CDVSA have 26 direct service program grantees, whose funds have been flat funded for the past 5 years, leaving them short and unable to cover inflationary increases of wage and utility expenses.


Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (ANDSVA)’s Brenda and Lauree

Teachers and Students in the Capitol!

Representative Dibert and I were pleased to cheer friends and neighbors to the gallery of the House Floor this week. Teachers Rebecca Vano (a District 14 constituent!), Lynda Prince and Chance Matsuoka, brought 6 students with the Educators Rising program to educate them about civics in action and the legislative process. Such an honor to welcome them!

Senator Sullivan's Joint Address to the Legislature

Have a listen: Senator Sullivan spoke to a Joint Session of the House and Senate on Wednesday, February 21.


I appreciated Senator Sullivan's comments on his Clean Seas priorities, which are focused on removing marine debris from our oceans.


You can watch his address here.

Hometown News

The Anchorage Delegation is hosting a Legislative TOWNHALL, please attend!




Save

The

Date








Serving you,


District 14 Community Council Schedule

You're always invited to your local neighborhood gathering!

Tudor

Spenard

Rogers Park

Midtown

March 7th



7 p.m.


Fire Station Four

March 6th



7 p.m.


Spenard Rec Center

March 11th



7 p.m.


Rogers Park Elementary School Library

March 13th



12 p.m.


3000 "C" St. Building

We Look Forward to Hearing From, and Serving You!

Representative Alyse Galvin


Anchorage LIO

1500 W Benson Blvd.

Room 325

Anchorage, AK 99503


Office: 907-465-3875

Representative.Alyse.Galvin@akleg.gov

Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson


Anchorage LIO

1500 W Benson Blvd.

Room 328

Anchorage, AK 99503


Office: 907-269-0174

Senator.Elvi.Gray-Jackson@akleg.gov

Congresswoman

Mary Peltola


Anchorage Office:

121 W Fireweed Ln, Ste. 260

Anchorage, AK 99503

 

Phone: 907-921-6575


Peltola.House.Gov

Senator

Lisa Murkowski


510 L Street

Suite 600

Anchorage, AK 99501


Phone: (907) 271-3735


Murkowski.Senate.Gov

Senator

Dan Sullivan


510 L Street

Suite 750

Anchorage, AK 99501


Phone: (907) 271-5915


Sullivan.Senate.Gov

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