Cliff Notes #6
Meeting the Moment
Serving House District 18
(Government Hill, JBER, and parts of North Muldoon, Downtown, Fairview, and Mountain View)
Alaskans demand immediate government action to increase the Base Student Allocation (BSA) to increase K-12 funding and return to a Defined Benefits system for public employees, all while addressing the state’s structural deficit. No matter how loudly Alaskans cry out for this, not every legislator is so keen to listen. Despite the challenge I am hard at work to meet this moment. 

Increasing the BSA and Supporting Education

I have heard from parents, students, school boards, and teachers about their struggles. I support increased education funding and helping schools deal with costs such as supplies, heating, and insurance. I cosponsored HB 65 that would raise the BSA by $1,250 per eligible student for a total BSA per student of $7,210. Additionally, I have cosponsored a bill (HB 9) to add a University of Alaska faculty member to the University's Board of Regents, which would provide valuable perspectives to help the University contribute to Alaska's economic development, provide Alaska's skilled workforce, and grow our world-class research. 

Cosponsored Bills
  • HB 65, "Increase Base Student Allocation," Prime Sponsor Representative Ortiz
  • HB 9, "Add Faculty Member University Board of Regents," Prime Sponsor Representative Carrick

Returning to Defined Benefits

I support returning to a Defined Benefit system statewide, and I hope that will create incentives to increase the recruitment and retention of our public employees.  I look forward to working on SB 88 regarding the retirement system. I have met in my office with Chief Douglas Schrage, Assistant Chief Alex Boyd, and Assistant Chief Brian Partch of the Anchorage Fire Department about improving retirement benefits of firefighting personnel. I am proud to be a cosponsor of HB 22, and I thank them for all the work they do in keeping our community safe.

Cosponsored Bills
  • HB 22, "Peace Officer/Firefighter Retire Benefits," Prime Sponsor Representative Josephson

Bills with my Support
  • SB 88, "Retirement Systems; Defined Benefit OPT," Prime Sponsor Senator Giessel
Rep. Cliff Groh in House Judiciary Committee
First Measure Introduced to Address Structural Deficit

I have introduced my first piece of legislation: a House Joint Resolution to send a constitutional amendment to voters to fully protect the Alaska Permanent Fund in the Constitution. This critical measure--HJR 9--will prevent the Legislature from blowing a key part of the Permanent Fund in a spree.   

Currently, the Permanent Fund is structured as two accounts:  the Principal and the Earnings Reserve Account.   The Alaska Constitution prohibits the spending of the Principal without a vote of the people.  The Earnings Reserve Account, on the other hand, is entirely available for the Legislature to spend by a simple majority vote.   The Legislature adopted statutes in 2018 that allow for the sustainable spending (or "draw") of Permanent Fund earnings, but those statutes could not stop the Legislature from passing budgets that spend Permanent fund earnings well beyond sustainable limits.  Adoption of this proposed constitutional amendment would combine the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account and the Permanent Fund Principal into a single constitutionally protected account that would guarantee sustainability.   (The statutes adopted in 2018 established the "Percent of Market Value" ("POMV") system, so this proposed constitutional amendment is sometimes called "constitutionalizing POMV.")

Adopting this constitutional amendment will keep the Legislature from using the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account as a piggy bank and thus ensure the health and growth of our state’s renewable financial resource.  The Permanent Fund's Trustees have recommended this change since 2000.  This constitutional amendment was also urged by the Fiscal Policy Working Group, a bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers who proposed a comprehensive solution for the State of Alaska's structural deficit in 2021. 

If HJR 9 passes the Legislature and is approved by voters, the change will align the Permanent Fund with best practices in the financial industry.   The constitutionally limited POMV draw will serve as a cap on revenues and an effective spending cap, limiting the amount of money that the Legislature can appropriate to no more than five percent of the Permanent Fund's total market value.   

As a lifelong Alaskan who voted for the constitutional amendment establishing the Permanent Fund and helped create the Permanent Fund Dividend, I am proud to introduce this resolution to help provide a secure financial future for Alaska.   HJR 9 does not address the size of the Permanent Fund Dividend or what specific percentage of the POMV draw is spent on state services like schools, roads, public safety, and public health, leaving those questions to be decided by other measures.   

Rep. Alyse Galvin, I.-Anchorage, likes to call this measure the "Protect Our Permanent Fund Forever Act."  She is one of nine cosponsors of HJR 9, meaning that it already has the support of one-quarter of the House.  I presented this resolution to the House Special Committee on Ways and Means, and I will continue to work to send this common-sense fiscal solution to voters.

Meetings in the District

Hello!  Senator Löki Tobin and I are joining Anchorage Assembly members Christopher Constant and Dr. Daniel Volland to host a constituent Town Hall Meetings on Saturday, March 18th. The event will be held at the Pioneer School House (437 E. 3rd Ave.) from 10 to 11:00 am. This event will be a legislative update where we will hear and listen to people about their concerns and the best ways to address them.  I look forward to seeing you there.
Chris Mello, Government Hill constituent and Board Member of Blood Bank of Alaska; and Robert Scanlon, Chief Executive Officer of Blood Bank of Alaska
Speaking on "Hello Alaska," A Podcast about Alaska

I had the opportunity to speak with Pat Race on the podcast "Hello Alaska." We talked about Alaska's structural deficit and our state's complicated fiscal politics.  The podcast link is below under the name "The Just Right Gang."

Podcast with Hello Alaska and Rep. Cliff Groh

Pat Race, Juneau Podcaster
The Alaska House Coalition 2023

I am happy to serve you.   Call or e-mail any time!

Phone: 907-465-4998

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can unsubscribe from this list and sign up at