February 23, 2024


Dear Friends, Neighbors, and Fellow Fairbanksans,


Welcome to the 55th edition of the Carrick Capitol Connection! This morning is feeling bright at the Capitol, after last night’s historic House vote to secure the largest increase in education funding in state history. The week started out with the House Majority’s omnibus education bill (SB 140) on the calendar on Monday and ended after many hours of debate both on and off the House Floor over several days about the best path forward for making investments in education for our state. Keep reading for more information on this important victory for Alaska’s schools and communities.

 

Additionally, this week was the Alaksa Municipal League fly-in and it was great to connect with municipal officials from Fairbanks, including Borough Mayor Bryce Ward, Borough Assemblymember (and former West Fairbanks Representative) David Guttenberg, and City of Fairbanks Mayor Dave Pruhs.

 

Also, in this week’s edition of the Carrick Capitol Connection, I will discuss the recent Interior Delegation meeting with our municipal officials, spotlight upcoming Carrick Community Coffee Hours for when I will be back home in Fairbanks, and finally highlight other great events going on in our community. Continue reading for more information! 

Rep Carrick meeting with Rep Sarah Hannan (D -- Juneau) prior to consideration of SB 140 in the House on Monday. The halls of the Capitol were filled with supporters of an increase to the Base Student Allocation


 Historic Investment to Education Funding Passes House

After nearly three weeks of waiting, Senate Bill 140 was finally scheduled for consideration on the House Floor on Monday, and the rest of this week has been tirelessly dedicated to getting that bill across the finish line. In a January edition of the Carrick Capitol Connection, I discussed how this bill began as a simple bill to expand broadband for schools that ballooned into the House Majority’s omnibus education bill. Dozens of people testified on the provisions of that bill on a Saturday hearing of the House Rules committee, mostly to the importance of an education funding increase and with support for the underlying support for broadband infrastructure and opposing language that removed local control for the establishment of charter schools. Among other things this omnibus bill had also included a woefully inadequate $300 per-student increase to the Base Student Allocation, our education funding formula. As the bill headed to the Floor, there were many in the House that knew changes were needed.

 

On Monday, with the support of the Bush delegation consisting of rural Democratic and Independent legislators who caucus with the majority, the omnibus version of SB 140 failed to be adopted with a vote of 20-20 and a subsequent effort to adopt that version failed on Wednesday. On Wednesday, the House then undertook a long series of amendments to the original version of the bill to add a meaningful increase to the BSA and provide for other improvements to our education system.

 

With our school district facing a $28 million budget deficit, they are facing tough choices about how to balance their budget for the next school year and provide fiscal stability into the future. To balance their budget, our school district needs a BSA increase of $1413 per-student and I introduced an amendment that would have provided a BSA increase of that size. You can watch my speech supporting that amendment on YouTube page. Unfortunately, we were two votes short of achieving this break-even funding for the Fairbanks School District, and our districts across Alaska. Amendments to increase the BSA ranged in size from $680 per-student to $1890 per-student, but unfortunately, they were all blocked by the Republicans in the House Majority by the same two vote margin


You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need!

After extended further conversations into the evening hours on Thursday, and after four days of debate and deliberation, members of the House Majority and Minority eventually came together to pass a compromise version of SB 140. Although this is an imperfect bill, I voted in favor of it because this bill is the best one that we can pass and represents hard work across party lines, caucus lines, and many different opinions about how to most effectively support education. Importantly, this version of the bill is a vast improvement from the version of the bill that passed out of the House Rules Committee back in January. Ultimately, this bill takes a decisive step in the right direction. The final version of the bill that passed the house included:

  • A $680 per-student increase to the Base Student Allocation, the largest in the states history!
  • A funding increase for student transportation services
  • Funding to help implement the Alaska Reads Act. Specifically, it provides school districts $500 per-student to provide support for students who have been determined to have a reading deficiency.
  • It expands charter school access, without removing local control of charter schools, by committing Department of Education personnel to provide support for charter schools and increasing state investment in public charter schools.
  • Increases broadband access for rural schools, allowing us to leverage over $300 million in federal broadband investments.

 

The conversation in Juneau around education policy and funding is not over. Personally, I would like to see a much higher increase to the BSA. For the time being though, a $680 per student increase provides much needed stability for our school district in the short term. I will continue advocating for a larger increase to the BSA for the long term. Additionally, the direct funding to help implement the Reads Act will go a long way to helping our students and teachers. I look forward to continuing working with my colleagues to make necessary improvements in our education system.

 

Finally, I would like to thank the hundreds of Fairbanksans who reached out to my office, and the offices of my colleagues in the Interior Delegation who ultimately voted in support of increasing the BSA.

Rep Carrick meeting the UAF Alumni Association, including Alumni Board Chair (and former Fairbanks Representative) Tom Brice (center) and UAF Provost Anupma Prakash (left)



Interior Delegation Update

As I mentioned earlier, the Alaska Municipal League was in town for their annual fly-in and municipal officials from Fairbanks were in the Capitol. On Tuesday morning, the Interior Delegation met with the Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Bryce Ward, and City of Fairbanks Mayor David Pruhs where they shared their updated legislative priorities.

 

The Interior Delegation works closely with our municipal partners to ensure we can elevate the priorities of our community back in Fairbanks while here in Juneau. The Borough’s capital budget priorities include funding for road service area improvements, and funding in coordination with the University of Alaska to create a childcare facility at the old University Park building for borough and university employees. Among their legislative priorities is HB 221, my legislation to provide legal clarity for boroughs to establish an exemption process for illegally subdivided land to be further subdivided.

 

One of the largest priorities of the City of Fairbanks for many years has been the final demolition of the Polaris Building downtown. Last year, thanks to the advocacy of the Interior Delegation, we were able to secure the necessary $3 million dollars to finally complete the demolition of the Polaris building. Additionally, the City has been working on resolving their recruitment and retention issues for public safety employees.

 

The Interior Delegation will continue meeting throughout the session with constituent groups from back home and work with colleagues from around our region to find common ground, discuss issues, and keep the lines of communication strong around our shared interests.  

FNSB Mayor Bryce Ward meeting with the Interior Delegation

City of Fairbanks Mayor David Pruhs meeting with the Interior Delegation

Carrick Community Coffee (and Beer!) Hours Coming Soon

Connecting with constituents is one of the highlights of being a legislator, and I can’t wait to make a trip home and connect with you! I will be coming back to Fairbanks on the weekend of March 8 and will be hosting two more Carrick Community Coffees in some of my favorite places in West Fairbanks. Please mark your calendars and join me for one of the following Carrick Community Coffees, and tell your friends and neighbors:

 

 

I would love to catch up with you and hope you will drop by if you can. If you are unable to attend, I will be coming back to Fairbanks at least one more time before the end of the session, and will be hosting more community events then, so stay tuned. You can also reach out to my office at any time, and we can schedule time to meet up or talk on the phone about any issues that are important to you. However you choose to connect, I look forward to hearing from you!

Rep Carrick speaking on the House Floor during debate on SB 140


Upcoming Events and Opportunities for Public Comment

Board of Education Budget Community Forum

The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District’s Board of Education will be holding a Board Budget Community Forum on Tuesday, February 27 at 6pm at the Lathrop High School library located at 901 Airport Way. I encourage folks to take advantage of this opportunity to share your thoughts on recent budget decisions, primarily the proposed closing of public schools in our district.

 

Behavioral Health Roadmap Project for Alaska Youth

In a Carrick Capitol Connection from August of last year, I discussed the Behavioral Health Roadmap for Alaska Youth. This is a coordinated effort between the Alaska Department of Health, the Alaska Department of Family and Community Services, local providers, and policymakers to create a region-focused, iterative approach to improving the continuum of care for Alaskan youth with behavioral health disabilities.

 

The Department of Health along with the Department of Family and Community Services have announced the release of the full draft report for this project. Public comment is now open, ending on Sunday, March 17. Please visit the Behavioral Health Roadmap project website and select the “Public Comment” button to submit your feedback.

 

Noel Wien Library Foundation Fundraising Kick-Off

The Noel Wien Library Foundation has almost reached its last fundraising goal of $1.5 million and needs just $400,000 to finish this community project. The library plans to re-open this spring. Representatives from the Library Foundation Board, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alcan Builders, and Noel Wien Library will be there from 4:30pm-6:30pm to answer construction questions, explain new services and share the vision for the renovated Noel Wien Library.

 

UAF Engineering Open House

The University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Engineering and Mines will host its annual Engineering Open House in the Usibelli Building on Saturday, February 24, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is open to high school students, prospective college students, and anyone with an interest in engineering. Attendees can explore cutting-edge labs, engage with current students and faculty, and gain insights into the groundbreaking research taking place at UAF.

 

Event highlights include the 58th annual ice arch constructed by engineering students, as well as rocket launches. Engineering students and clubs will showcase exhibits and offer hands-on demonstrations in various fields, including electrical, mechanical, petroleum, mining, civil, geological and computer engineering. There will also be a photo booth, prizes, complimentary snacks, and children’s T-shirts while supplies last. Participants who complete a scavenger hunt will have a chance to win one of two $1,500 scholarship accounts sponsored by Golden Valley Electric Association and the Alaska 529 plan.

 

2024 Micro-Grants for Food Security

Applications are now open for an agricultural grant through the Alaska Division of Agriculture’s 2024 Micro-Grants for Food Security Program. On behalf of the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service, $2.2 million is available for distribution through the micro-grant program. These grants will be used to increase the quantity and quality of locally grown products in food-insecure communities through small-scale agricultural projects to include gardening, herding, and livestock operations. Priority is given to applicants in rural communities facing significant food insecurity problems. The grant period runs through March 15.

 

My Staff and I Are Here for You!

As always, feel free to reach out to my office any time by calling 907-452-6084, emailing Rep.Ashley.Carrick@akleg.gov, or by following me @RepCarrick on social media. If you know of anyone who would like to sign up for an emailed edition of the Carrick Capitol Connection, please pass along this link to sign up online, or email me to be added to the list. Again, your comments are always appreciated. Please let us know if there are any specific topics in which you may be interested!


Best wishes,

Representative Ashley Carrick

Proudly Serving House District 35 -- West Fairbanks


Rep.Ashley.Carrick@akleg.gov

907-452-6084


1292 Sadler Way, Ste 324, Fairbanks, AK 99701

*Global Credit Union building (formerly Alaska USA Credit Union), across from Home Depot, Walmart, and Fred Meyer east.

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Contact my Staff

Stuart Relay

Chief of Staff


stuart.relay@akleg.gov

907-452-6084

Cherie Bowman

Legislative Aide


cherie.bowman@akleg.gov

907-452-6084


Contact the Fairbanks Legislative Information Office


1292 Sadler Way Ste 308

Fairbanks, AK 99701


Office: 907-452-4448

Fax: 907-456-3346


LIO.Fairbanks@akleg.gov


Contact the Governor's Fairbanks Office


675 7th Ave, Ste. H5

Fairbanks, AK 99701-4596


907-451-2920


gov.alaska.gov


Contact your Congressional Delegation

Congresswoman Mary Peltola

Anchorage Office:

121 W Fireweed Ln, Ste. 260

Anchorage, AK 99503


Phone: 907-921-6575


Email


Website:

Peltola.House.Gov

Senator Lisa Murkowski

Fairbanks Office:

250 Cushman Ave, Suite 2D

Fairbanks, AK 99701


Phone: (907) 456-0233

Fax: (877) 857-0322


Email


Website: Murkowski.Senate.Gov

Senator Dan Sullivan

Fairbanks Office:

101 12th Ave., Ste. 328

Fairbanks, AK 99701


Phone: (907) 456-0261

Fax: (907) 451-7290


Email


Website: Sullivan.Senate.Gov