April 12, 2024


Dear Friends, Neighbors, and Fellow Fairbanksans,

  

Welcome to the 62nd edition of the Carrick Capitol Connection! This week was budget week in the House, and we spent many hours on the House Floor considering over 137 amendments to the Operating Budget. After this long week, I am excited to come home for the weekend and I look forward to connecting with you at one of my community events. This weeks edition of the Carrick Capitol Connection will discuss the budget that passed the House, community events I will be hosting this weekend in Fairbanks, and events going on in our community.

 

Reminder: Upcoming Carrick Community Events

This weekend I will be home in Fairbanks and am so excited to hear from you! As discussed in previous Carrick Capitol Connections, this will be my last trip home for the session and will be our last opportunity to connect in Fairbanks until late May when I return home for the interim. Please come to one of the following events and let me know about the issues that matter most to you. If you are wanting to connect and cannot make these times, please feel free to reach out soon so we can set up a phone call or virtual appointment soon.

 

 

Again, if you are unable to make either of these events and you would like to connect, please feel free to contact my office and we would be happy to set up a virtual meeting or a phone call. I look forward to connecting with you! We will also be advertising several more opportunities to connect over the summer months once I am back home for the interim, so stay tuned for this in future editions of the Carrick Capitol Connection. 

Operating Budget Passes the House

In last weeks edition of the Carrick Capitol Connection, I discussed the budget that passed out of the House Finance Committee and the positive changes that the House Minority Coalition was able to make in that committee. This week, the House has been busy deliberating the operating budget on the Hose Floor. The good news is that the positive changes made to the budget in the House Finance Committee remain in the budget, and we were able to stand up and reject further cuts to K-12 education and the University of Alaska offered by some members of the House Majority.

 

After rigorous debate on the House Floor, many of the proposed changes to this budget by the House Coalition were rejected. Still, I would like to take a moment to thank all of my colleagues in both the House Majority and in the House Minority for a respectful, and ultimately productive budget process on the House Floor. I offered four amendments to the budget, two of which passed, and two of which were rejected. Here are some of the highlights from the budget process, including a recap of the amendments I offered.

 

Rep Carrick’s Budget Amendments

  • Supporting Team Alaska: Alaska used to financially support Arctic Winter Games Team Alaska until 2016. The Arctic Winter Games is an athletic event that happens every two years and includes teams from all countries of the circumpolar north, all of which offer some financial support and assistance to their team. This year, it was hosted in the Mat-Su Borough and Team Alaska included 275 athletes, many from rural communities, competing in all 20 events who are backed up by 54 coaches who are mostly volunteers. Team Alaska is in dire need of financial support as it prepares for the next games that will be happening in Whitehorse Yukon in 2026, and then Greenland in 2028. The games are a good learning and team building experience for the athletes from both urban and rural Alaska. I offered an amendment to provide Team Alaska $262,000 for gametime expenses. I ended up withdrawing this amendment because our Senate District neighbor, Rep Mike Cronk (R – Tok/Goldstream) offered an earlier amendment to invest $300,000 for Team Alaska, and that amendment passed. I am pleased to work together with our Senate District neighbor to advocate for Team Alaska, and for continued support of the Arctic Winter Games.

 

 

  • Getting students to school: A major cost driver of education is the transportation of students to and from school, especially with increasing fuel, personnel, and vehicle costs. Many Fairbanksans will remember in 2022 when our school district had a major bus driver shortage that led to temporarily cutting bus routes, including all bus service to Hutchison High School. While the worst of those issues have been resolved, our school district had to pony up additional money for student transportation. This action takes money out of the classroom. I offered an amendment that provide $7.5 million for student transportation, which is consistent with the pupil transportation increase as provided for in SB140, which was vetoed by the Governor. Unfortunately, this amendment did not pass, but I will continue working to secure additional funding for student transportation.

 

  • Supporting mental health services at the University of Alaska: As the Representative for the district that includes the UAF main campus, I consider all UAF students my constituents. Making sure they have access to necessary mental health resources is a high priority. Since 2019, there has been a 25% increase in student use of mental health services on campus. I offered an amendment that would provide $740,000 to the UA system to provide greater access to mental health resources, including counseling. This amendment was a priority of both the students and the alumni association. Unfortunately though, this amendment did not pass. However, I will continue to prioritize much needed student services like these at the University. 

Rep Carrick speaking on the House Floor during debate on the operating budget


Mixed Results for Education Funding

Education funding certainly has been front and center during this session, and I thank the hundreds of Alaskans who have reached out to my office supporting increased investment in education. The version of the budget that passed the House Finance Committee included a one-time per student increase to the Base Student Allocation of $680 per student. While this is insufficient for our school district to balance its budget and does not provide long term stability for our school district, it provides a necessary band-aid for the upcoming school year. In addition to my amendment to increase funding for student transportation as discussed above, there were several amendments to add to this one-time BSA increase. Unfortunately, all those amendments to increase education funding failed.

 

On the brighter side, the University’s budget is for the most part status quo, having avoided serious cuts similar to what we saw back at the start of the Dunleavy administration. That being said, there were efforts to bring us back to that era with an amendment to cut $20 million in research funding for the University to help us get to illustrious R1 status. Like our predecessors Reps Steve Thompson (R – East Fairbanks) and Adam Wool (D – West Fairbanks) who famously teamed up to support the University; Rep Will Stapp (R – East Fairbanks) and I passionately opposed that amendment. We are both glad it was resoundingly defeated. After years of sustained budget cuts, we should not be cutting the University budget and I’m glad that this amendment and others not accepted.

 

The Budget Moves Forward!

Despite the wins that the House Coalition was able to secure in this budget, ultimately I could not vote for it. As it stands, the budget is not putting needed investment into energy via the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnership (GRIP) match proposal, or through the Renewable Energy Fund. The bill also pays super-sized PFD’s ahead of making these investments that would reduce the energy costs of all Alaskans. As the budget moves over to the Senate, and they begin their deliberations, I hope they are able to make necessary changes including increased investment in education and energy, and providing for and a fiscally responsible dividend. Next week, the House will begin considering the Capital Budget which is poised to pass the Senate soon. In the Capital Budget, I look forward to advocating for worthwhile investments that help build and maintain Alaska including deferred maintenance at the University, line upgrades for the Interior Gas Utility, and other needed projects. Stay tuned for more budget updates! 

Yesterday was National Pet Day. Rep Carrick loves her beagles, Beelz (left) and Zephyr (right)


Community Events and Public Comment Opportunities

BLM Alaska Long National Scenic Trail Public Comment Period

As assigned by Congress in the FY2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act, BLM Alaska is evaluating the characteristics of the proposed Alaska Long Trail and recommending its eligibility as an addition to the National Trails System as a national scenic trail. The purpose of the Alaska Long National Scenic Trail feasibility study is to evaluate the characteristics which make the proposed trail worthy of designation as a national scenic trail, as well as the feasibility, suitability, and desirability of designating the route as a national scenic trail. Findings of the trail study will be shared with Congress who has the sole authority to enact legislation to designate new national scenic trails.

 

The legislation directed the BLM to "study the feasibility of designating the trail, including evaluating the potential impacts of the trail on rights-of-way, existing rights, or other recreational uses of the land proposed to be used for the trail." BLM Alaska is hosting five in-person public engagement sessions for the Alaska Long Trail feasibility study, with the Fairbanks session being held on Friday, April 12 from 5pm – 7pm at Birch Hill Recreation Area. For additional opportunities to provide input on the proposed routes of the trail, please visit their website. The map and comment capability will be open April 8 through April 19, 2024.

 

Ester Community Association Membership Meeting

In November, the Ester Community Association Board of Directors received a summary of suggestions that were generated during the community planning session last fall. There are more than 750 distinct recommendations, and nearly 160 comments on Ester’s values, vision, and challenges.  While 80 people participated in the initial meeting, the association would like more substantial community input. On April 28, during the Spring Ester Community Association membership meeting, they will share some highlights from the initial planning meeting, but more work is needed before they can generate any substantial recommendations.

 

Beginning this May, the Ester Community Association will be using the initial results to generate a survey and provide additional opportunity for community input. A revived steering committee will help with sorting and reviewing the data and developing a survey tool that will help further their work. While the survey is the next step, additional in-person work sessions will be held before an Ester Community Plan can be produced. If you are interested in assisting in this process, please send an email to estercommunityassoc@gmail.com.

 

A Women’s Affair Event

A Women’s Affair is a representation of the women-owned and women-oriented businesses in Fairbanks. There will be discussions on health issues, tips for managing finances, opportunities to shop for the latest fashions, tasty treats, beauty tips and tricks, home decorating ideas, and a chance to pick up a new hobby. Over 150 different businesses and agencies participated in the 2023 event. A Women’s Affair is being held at the Carlson Center on Friday, April 12 from 6pm to 9pm, Saturday, April 13 from 10am to 5pm, and Sunday, April 14 from 11am to 5pm. For more information, please visit their Facebook event page.

 

UAF Opera Workshop

First performed in December 1893, Humperdinck’s opera Hansel and Gretel (Hänsel und Gretel) retells the well-known fairy-tale. When Hansel and Gretel find themselves lost in the forest, they stumble upon a house made of gingerbread. Unable to resist temptation, the siblings begin eating the house only to be captured by the witch who lives there. The witch puts Gretel to work in the kitchen, while fattening Hansel up to eat. Gretel manages to trick the witch and pushes her into her own oven, thus turning her into a cake and releasing all the gingerbread children the witch had baked before. The UAF Opera Workshop will be performing this opera under the direction of Amy Ingram and accompanied by Dr. Dario Martin. This opera is supported by Undergraduate Research & Scholarly Activity (URSA). URSA is UAF’s resource for the development and promotion of experimental learning activities that support UAF’s goal to become a leading student-focused research university. Undergraduate research and creative activity at UAF cover all disciplines, from climate to sciences to music, engineering, anthropology, life, sciences, art, and theater. For more information, email Elena Mahoney or call (907)474-7555.  

 

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 wises,

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