logo image

CLIFF NOTES #35

You're Invited to a Townhall on Education!

April 26th, 2024

Serving House District 18

Government Hill; JBER; parts of North Muldoon, Downtown, Fairview, and Mountain View

Newsletter Topics:

  1. Townhall Event
  2. Education
  3. Pension
  4. Renewable Energy Bill


I invite you to the first in a series of education townhall meetings.

The first of these events will be this Saturday, April 27, at the Aurora Elementary School on Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson (JBER) from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. See the photo below for more information.

Come eat pizza and discuss the state of education in Alaska with me and my co-host Anchorage School Board Vice President Carl Jacobs.


Some potential topics that will be discussed:

  • What will happen with K-12 education funding, including the Base Student Allocation (BSA)? How about classroom sizes? What are the potential responses to the court decision ruling unconstitutional Alaska’s allotments for homeschooling? What is the story on school closures? How does all this impact schools on JBER?

YOU MUST HAVE BASE ACCESS TO ATTEND this first event, but I will hold one or more Education Townhalls in the future off of JBER so that everybody can participate.

Education

We need to fix three things regarding K-12 education. We need to raise funding for all students by increasing the Base Student Allocation (BSA). We need to bring back a defined benefit system to recruit and retain good teachers. And now we need to fix the issue with funding for correspondence schools/homeschooling.


What has happened recently with funding for correspondence schools/homeschooling?

  • A Superior Court decision ruled this month that it is unconstitutional to use public money to pay for tuition at private and religious schools. This ruling strikes down the current correspondence school allotment system.

The Alaska Constitution states that “No money shall be paid from the public funds for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution." There is a question of whether there will be a “stay” of the Superior Court decision that would put it on hold until the Alaska Supreme Court rules on the appeal. Regardless of whether there is a stay—or how long it might be—the State Board of Education could fix the unconstitutional provisions by issuing new regulations. The Legislature could also adopt a simple fix by amending the statutes to make the allotment system constitutional. I support those simple and targeted fixes.

A constitutional amendment has been proposed to eliminate the probation on state funding going to private and religious schools. I oppose this constitutional amendment for several reasons.

  • A constitutional amendment to is not the fix to the homeschool allotments issue we need. It is unrealistic and unnecessary as well as unwise.
  • Removing this language from the Alaska Constitution would blur the line between church and state, weaken public schools’ ability to provide a good education, and reduce accountability in public funding.

Pension: Defined Benefit

On Monday, April 22, I gave a special order (speech) on the House Floor discussing the reasons why bringing back Alaska's defined benefit pension system is so important.

The State Senate has passed a bill (Senate Bill 88 or SB 88) to bring back a public employee defined benefit pension system, but that bill has been stuck in the House Labor and Commerce Committee. This lack of movement triggered a rally this week in which firefighters and police officers from around the state came to Juneau to show how important this bill is to them, their families, and the whole state.

We have a retention and recruitment problem in Alaska. We can’t keep the employees that we train, and so we are stuck in a cycle of constantly training new employees. We are the only state in the United States that does not have a pension for public employees, and so we are hemorrhaging good, well-trained, Alaska employees to states that offer them a good future in their retirement.

The pension program proposed in SB 88 is a fiscally responsible plan to help solve Alaska’s employee retention and out-migration issues. 

Photo on the Capitol steps of the rally in support of Senate Bill 88

Renewable Energy Bill: HB 349

I have been working tirelessly to keep House Bill (HB) 349 moving. This is an exciting piece of legislation that would increase revenue for our state and also help bring more affordable energy to Alaskans. Last week the bill moved out of its first committee referral in the House Resource Committee. It was the first minority bill to move out of House Resources this Legislature. It then moved to the House Special Committee on Energy. The bill has been amended in both committees and has garnered a lot of attention from members of both parties, the executive branch, and private interest looking to develop renewable projects in Alaska.

I am continuing to fight for this legislation because I believe in it. I’ll keep you updated on whatever happens next!

Friends, neighbors, I hope spring and break up season in Anchorage are treating you well!



All the best,

ff32fdbf-2f2d-46c2-d1ba-e9c9b2cd98d6 image
dcccd5b6-eb02-9537-b566-22c4d64f0e17 image

- Proudly Serving House District 18 -

(Government Hill, JBER, and parts of North Muldoon, Downtown, Fairview, and Mountain View)

Cameron Ebersold

Chief of Staff

Email: Cameron.Ebersold@akleg.gov

Sophie Weiser

Staff

Email: Sophie.Weiser@akleg.gov



Office: 907-465-4998

Fax: 907-269-0229


LIO.Anchorage@akleg.gov




Facebook  X  Instagram  Web