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March 22, 2022

Friends and Neighbors,

Last Friday, I was saddened to hear of the passing of our Congressional Representative Don Young. He served our state memorably for 49 years. Congressman Young's record of service and advocacy on behalf of all Alaskans in unparalleled. His presence in the U.S. House of Representatives, and here in Alaska, will be greatly missed.

Support for Ukraine

As the world watches with heavy hearts, and even horror, at the events in Ukraine, the Alaska Legislature has decided to take this time to act in solidarity with Ukraine. On Friday, the Alaska House of Representatives passed Senate Joint Resolution 25, “Supporting Ukraine.” The resolution, which passed the Senate unanimously the prior week, is now headed to the Governor’s desk for a signature.

The resolution sparked lively debate on the House Floor, but is ultimately a simple piece of legislation. It shows the Alaska Legislature’s solidarity with the people of Ukraine by condemning Russia’s illegal invasion, supporting federal-level sanctions, and demanding Russia to stop hostilities.

I am fully supportive of the Resolution and my condolences go out to the Ukrainian people during this difficult and terrifying time. There are many ways we can show our support, and one way is donating. Some aid organizations that are directly helping Ukrainians are the Ukrainian Red Cross, Voices of Children, Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, and many more.
Increased State Revenue
On March 15th, the Alaska Department of Revenue released their Spring Revenue Forecast, which estimates our state's short- and long-term revenue. The Spring Forecast was vastly different from the Fall Forecast just a few months earlier because of the sudden jump in oil and gas prices. 

The Legislature now has much more wiggle room with the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, although we are still using conservative forecasting figures. The Department of Revenue predicts an increase of $1.2 billion in FY22 and $2.4 billion in FY23.
How is the House considering using those extra funds?

An Energy Relief Check for Every Alaskan - Alaskans are paying significantly more at the gas pump and for home utility costs. This one-time check of $1,300 would help mitigate those costs. There was a similar Energy Assistance Program in 2008, when the price per barrel hit $120. Likewise, the price per barrel exceeded $120 earlier this month.

Additional Funds for Education - The House's current budget includes additional funding for the Student Base Allocation (BSA), which is the base number for the school funding formula. The BSA hasn't changed in seven years, despite seeing huge increases in fixed costs and inflation. Schools’ money doesn’t go as far, and many districts are having to let go teachers and increase class sizes in order to pay for heating, maintenance, and healthcare costs.

The House's current budget also includes forward funding into Fiscal Year 2024 for education. This additional year of funding will give school districts more stability as they create their own local budgets. 

A More Robust Capital Budget - It's time to bolster our Capital budget, which has been minimal in past years. Funding a larger capital budget will address on-going state maintenance costs, one-time projects that will benefit local municipalities, and most importantly, will open up more jobs for Alaskans during this critical time. Although this revenue increase is likely temporary, a robust capital budget can have positive long-term affects.
Daylight Saving Time - Public Testimony Opportunity
I have sponsored House Bill 31, "Daylight Saving Time All Year," which as the title implies, keeps Alaska on Daylight Saving Time (DST) year-round. The bill will be heard in the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday, March 24th at 3:00pm. If you are interested in providing written testimony, you can email me anytime before Thursday at Rep.Dan.Ortiz@AKLeg.gov. If you are interested in giving verbal testimony, you can use the call-in number 844-586-9085 on Thursday afternoon. 
Visitors at the Capitol Building
I had the honor and privilege of introducing some of my former colleagues (and current friends!) on the House Floor yesterday. Valerie Brooks, Roxanne Abajian, and Diane Gubatayao are visiting the Capitol Building to advocate for our public education system.

Now that the building is open to the public, visitors are always welcome. It's great to see familiar faces from the district. My office can offer you Capitol Building tours and an introduction during a House Floor session if scheduling permits. 
As always, please feel free to email me at Rep.Dan.Ortiz@akleg.gov or call at (907) 247-4672 any time.

Respectfully,

Representative Dan Ortiz

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Website
My Interim Office:
1900 First Ave, Ste. 310
Ketchikan, AK 99901

Rep.Dan.Ortiz@akleg.gov
(907) 247-4672
Contact the Governor
Email: click here
(907) 465-3500

Contact our DC Delegation
Senator Dan Sullivan (202) 224-3004
Senator Lisa Murkowski (202) 224-6665
Congressman Don Young (202) 225-5765
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Alaska Legislature · 120 4th Street · Juneau, Ak 99801 · USA

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