Muldoon Memo - 3/31

Announcements:

Today is the deadline to apply for your PFD. You can do so at this link. Please reach out to our office if you run into any issues. Although we are always here to help with your PFD issues, our ability to successfully resolve those issues declines dramatically starting tomorrow, so don’t delay!


Municipal Elections are next week. You can drop your ballot in your mailbox or any of the secure drop boxes around town, listed here. The last day to turn in your ballot is Tuesday, April 4.


Constituent Meeting at 11:30 on April 15 at Chester Valley Elementary. I’m looking forward to seeing everybody there and addressing your concerns on the budget, legislation this session, or anything else on your mind. RSVP on Facebook!


Medicaid Enrollees: Update Your Info! For the first time since COVID started, Medicaid is going to start removing people from the rolls again starting April 1. If you are on Medicaid, call 800-478-7778 and update your address and contact information to make sure you aren’t removed by mistake.


The ADN published my op-ed on the governor’s carbon bill. If you read the newsletter last week you got a sneak peek, if not, check it out here.


I gave a special order on the floor on Wednesday recognizing the importance of 4-H clubs, in which I participated as a kid. They were in town this week meeting with legislators to advocate for themselves and learn more about the legislative process. You can watch my remarks here.

Capitol Beat - Revenue Decline Kicks Off Budget Crisis

Last week the administration released a revised revenue forecast showing a nearly $925m decline relative to the previous forecast. Because Alaska lacks any broad-based taxes and receives so much of its annual revenue from oil and gas income, our budget is often squeezed when prices fall, and that’s exactly what’s happened here.


As it stands, the state is staring down a budget deficit of roughly $900m if we were to pay out a statutory dividend as the governor proposed, roughly $250m if we paid out a $2700 dividend as the House Finance Committee has proposed, and a modest surplus if we paid out a $1350 dividend as the Senate Finance Committee is proposing. None of those scenarios include any additional funding to boost our public schools, address our migration crisis, or do anything else to address the myriad challenges facing Alaska.


This framing—that the PFD trades off with state services and those are our only choices—is everywhere in the media and pervades the capitol building, but it’s wrong and has held Alaska back for decades now. We, the legislature, have it within our power to raise more revenue, and I’m glad to see several members come forward this past week with proposals to do just that.


Our favorite local Senator, Bill Wielechowski, introduced a bill to close a handful of loopholes in our oil tax structure that have given away hundreds of millions a year to that industry. On the other side of the aisle, House Rules Chairman Ben Carpenter introduced a bill to impose a 2% sales tax. I’m less excited about that proposal, but I’m glad to see members on all sides addressing the problem in front of us. Several other proposals will drop in the coming weeks, and I look forward to a serious discussion of how to actually solve our long-term revenue problem.

I was so glad to host Alaska Youth Environmental Action for a meeting this past week. AYEA is an amazing organization that I’ve been involved with for years; I’ve been a mentor and supporter for what feels like forever. So excited to hear they’re focusing on one of my areas of interest—food security—this year!

Things of Note

  • The House operating budget is hitting the floor next week. If there are specific things you’d like to see in there, please reach out to my office and we can have a discussion. Hurry though—our deadline to get amendments in is next Tuesday.

  • District 21 Community Council Meetings:

Stay Connected
You can find me at community council meetings and I’ll have more regular Coffee Chats after session ends. You can always in touch with my office--by email at rep.donna.mears@akleg.gov or by phone at 465-3438--and if you’re in Juneau please come find me in room 112 of the Capitol. If you’re on social media, please follow my
official Facebook page.

If you'd like to follow the legislature more closely on your own, I encourage you to go to http://akleg.gov and dive in. A tutorial for operating the legislature's website is available here. Feel free to call my office if you can’t find what you’re looking for.