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Rep. Les Gara

NEWS: Rep. Gara Opposes Legislation Ending Needs-Based College and Job Training Aid for Low Income Alaskans

Juneau — The Alaska Legislature’s legal department has confirmed that the Senate Finance Committee bill to end the Alaska Performance Scholarship program also ends the Alaska Education Grant program, which offers needs-based financial aid for college and job training. House Finance Committee member Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) worked to help start a two year needs-based aid effort several years before the current aid plan was passed.

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Rep. Kerttula’s Juneau Newsletter: End of Session – Maybe; Pieces of the End Game Puzzle

The last day of session is supposed to be Sunday April 17. However, there’s been some speculation that we won’t be able to finish in time. That all depends on whether or not the House and the Senate can come to an agreement about the capital budget and some other key items. At the end of session, a few key things need to fall into place as the final pieces of the puzzle. This year, the end game is centering around the operating and capital budgets, oil and gas taxes, coastal zone management, performance scholarships and education funding.

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Note from Rep. Gara: End of Session Inching Closer. Or Not.

Sunday is the official end of session, but there have been tensions between the House Speaker – who gave a speech suggesting a possible extended session – and Senate leaders. Presently, since I have learned over the past nine years that I can’t change any of the minds that will make that decision, I’m walking around those folks in a ducking position and looking right and left a lot to make sure I don’t end up in crossfire.

Except – I did end up in crossfire yesterday, first in a fight over the Governor’s scholarship bill, and then on a last minute move that took increased K-12 education funding out of a bill last night.

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Governor Moves to Weaken Scholarship Bill

JUNEAU- Governor Sean Parnell is calling on the House of Representatives to remove an amendment to his merit scholarship bill that would allow more students to qualify for the scholarships. This week the House Finance Committee passed an amendment by Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) to give the Alaska Department of Education the discretion to allow the merit scholarship for students who take required courses after graduation or to GED students who otherwise prove high academic achievement.

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Rep. Kerttula’s Juneau Newsletter: The Education Issue

One of the most important functions of the state is to provide for the education of the next generation of Alaskans. The real job is undertaken by parents, teachers, support staff and administration, but it is up to the state to fund that effort. With just over a week to go in session, it finally looks like an increase in education funding has gotten some traction. This may be in part because the revenue forecast that came out this week projected an extra $3.4 billion in surplus revenues over the next two years.

In this newsletter, I’ll talk about education funding, along with a couple of other interesting things that have been happening in the education field this session – parents as teachers and scholarships.

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Contact Info:
Graham Judson Press Secretary
(907) 465-5284
120 4th St, Juneau, AK 99801