Rep. Adam Wool's

House Finance Moves Operating Budget



Rep. Wool talks with the co-chairs of House Finance during a House Floor session. 


Dear friends, neighbors, and fellow Fairbanksans,

March has arrived, and we are now nearing the halfway mark of the legislative session. The House Finance committee finished the budget subcommittee process and spent last week working on amendments in the full House Finance committee. Now, the budget is on the House Floor for consideration this week.  Once the bill passes through the House, it will make its way through the Senate. 

This year, the House worked quickly to accomplish the budget process. Lots of hard work and careful consideration went into the crafting of this year's budget. The bill contains the following highlights:

1.) A 2.7% overall reduction in the FY 21 operating budget from last year's budget for a savings of over $100 million UGF.
2.) Funding for the University of Alaska system at the level agreed upon by the compact for a total reduction of $25 million in this year's budget for the University.
3.)Full Funding for Medicaid services, including the restoration of the Adult Dental Program.
4.) Restored partial funding to the Alaska Marine Highway System.
5.) Funding to establish a new recruitment and retention division in the Department of Corrections to help with staffing shortages.

The committee acted swiftly to get this work done, and I look forward to seeing the budget discussions this week on the House Floor.

Last week, we also worked to pass the supplemental budget out of the House, which makes changes to the budget for the current fiscal year. A significant highlight of this supplemental was that the House approved $144 million to the Department of Health and Social Services to keep the state Medicaid program running.


Public Testimony on the Operating Budget

Thanks to everyone that was able to write, call in, or attend public testimony in person last week on the Operating budget. We heard from 670 people from across the State, with 50 people testifying from the Fairbanks area. The top ten most talked about issues that testifiers called about were the following: 

  • 372 in support of public broadcasting
  • 143 in support of k-12 funding
  • 137 in support of the Marine Highway 
  • 94 in support of PFD reductions
  • 85 in support of forward funding education
  • 61 in support of an Income Tax
  • 55  in support of Medicaid / Health Care
  • 52 in support of the University of Alaska
  • 45 support of revising Oil/Gas taxes
  • 30 in support of Early Childhood Learning Programs

Throughout this budget process, I heard loud and clear that Alaskans would prefer to have access to State services that they rely upon rather than get a larger check each year. I hope to continue working with my colleagues to stabilize the State's fiscal situation and to ensure that our most important needs are met for education, public safety, health care, and transportation are met. 


Rep. Wool attends the Governor's Cup game for Nanooks hockey with UAF Chancellor Dan White and daughters Evelyn and Abby. The Nanooks won the trophy for the 11th year running. Go Nooks! 



Thanks to Office Visitors  

Recently, I have had several office visits from constituent groups from Fairbanks, and I want to thank everyone that has made it down to Juneau for advocacy meetings. The Alaska Food Coalition, Key Coalition, the Fairbanks School Board, the Interior Regional EMS Council, Fairbanks City Mayor Jim Matherly, the Fairbanks Hospital Foundation, and Moms Demand Action were just some of the many groups that have been down to Juneau. Thanks for your hard work and representation of important issues in our community!


Moms Demand Action is an advocacy group supporting gun violence reform legislation. Members from Fairbanks stopped by last week for a brief visit. 


House Bill 300: My Proposal to Combat Alaska's Fiscal Problem 

I have introduced a bill aimed at resolving the long-standing issues surrounding the allocation of the Permanent Fund Dividend. HB 300 will ensure the consistent funding of critical state and local operations and provide communities and individuals with both a portion of our state's great wealth for themselves and funds the essential services that we all require to have a bright future in Alaska. 

My plan involves dividing the entirety of the current POMV structured draw (5% of the Permanent Fund total) into sections using a prescribed formula. The total draw is projected to be around $3 billion. My bill would allocate 40% of the draw to K-12 education, 10% to the University, 10% to the capital budget, and 10% to a new community dividend. The first two items are currently in the budget and are funded to approximately the percentages listed. This formula would ensure that levels stay consistent and would gradually increase over time to stay in line with inflation. These entities would no longer have to actively lobby the legislature for basic funding. Both of these items are in the constitution. The capital budget percentage of 10% reflects the an increase of approximately 100% from last year. Our capital budget has been at the minimum level for federal matching for the past several years and our infrastructure and workforce are facing the effects. A capital budget of $300 million is not very large historically, but will go a long way towards keeping our workforce employed in Alaska.


One of the designations under this proposal is a 10% ($300 million) distribution to communities. This would replace the existing Community Assistance Program and increase community assistance by about 10-fold from the existing $30 million. The result of this would have many effects. The first is to bring state funds closer to individuals at the community level. Local communities would see a large increase in state funds and citizens could more easily influence how this money is spent. An individual could lobby their community leaders such as the City Council, Mayor, or Village Council with their priorities for how these funds should be spent. Whether it’s a new roof or a school, a new powerhouse for a village, deferred maintenance projects, a homeless shelter, ski trails, swimming pools, or village police officers- the list goes on.


Local community members and local governing bodies know best their own needs and priorities. This new “community dividend” would use a similar formula to the community assistance formula in that it gives a base amount to each borough ($1 million,) city ($250,000,) and unincorporated communities, mostly villages ($87,000,) and uses the remaining balance to be distributed on a per capita basis using the overall state population with a $1200/person cap. The cities of Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau would all get a base of $1 million plus a per person distribution. For example, the Fairbanks Borough would receive a total of $22 million which ends up being approximately $344/person, and the City would get $9.2 million, or $388/person. Villages that get the $87,000 as their base would get approximately the same $300/person, but the smaller their village is, the higher the per capita amount ends up being. For example, the City of Fort Yukon would get $433,000 or the equivalent of $866/person, while the village of Rampart would receive $88,000, which hits the cap of $1200/person.


The last portion of the POMV draw (30% or approximately $900 million) would be split into the PFD and the General Fund disbursements. This would be a 50/50 split which would result in approximately a $700 PFD. This amount combined with the per person amount can add up to close to $2,000 for the smaller communities that are in need of cash for their economies, and close to $1000 per person for the larger cities. This solves some of the problems that just cutting the PFD to pay for state services would cause and ensures that certain critical state services continue to set predictable and necessary funding. I am excited to see the discussions that arise form this proposal. 



Constituent Event in Fairbanks

On Saturday March 21, I will be hosting a town hall meeting with Rep. Grier Hopkins, where we will give an update on the budget process and the legislative session so far. I will also be presenting my new PFD bill. More details are forthcoming, but I hope you will consider joining us for our Saturday meeting in Fairbanks.


Rep Wool with colleagues Rep. Merrick, Rep. Josephson, and Rep. Sullivan-Leonard as budget discussions unfold in House Finance. 


The Novel Coronavirus: How You Can Stay Protected

The Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, presents a public health challenge across the world and now in the United States. While there are currently no known cases in Alaska, there is a strong likelihood that the disease will make its appearance in our State. This week, the Legislature will hold a mandatory meeting with all legislators and staff on how we can help keep ourselves and others protected. 

For now, here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how you can prevent the spread of Coronavirus, and also stay healthy throughout the rest of the flu season:  

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Wondering how can you stay engaged during session? Here are some tips:

Watch Gavel Alaska on KUAC TV!- Unfortunately Gavel to Gavel is not available on TV anymore, KUAC is currently the only station statewide that doesn’t broadcast 360 North over the air. Fairbanks has the highest rabbit ears percentage population in the country, many people have limited internet and need broadcast access. Please write or call to KUAC to restore broadcasting of 360 North’s Gavel Alaska at 474-7491.

As Fairbanksans who want to remain engaged with Alaska public affairs, “Gavel Alaska” is the unedited live and tape-delayed coverage of state government activities, including the Alaska Legislature when it is in session. Most committee hearings are broadcast on Gavel Alaska at or through the Live Now tab on the legislature’s home page. House and Senate floor sessions are also available on Gavel Alaska.
Keep Track of Bills – Interested in tracking bills through the legislative process? You can follow along on BASIS: Just type a bill number (example: HB1) in the search bar at the top of the page, or go to the Sponsor Summary to focus on my bills
Bill Tracking Management Facility (BTMF) – Track the status of bills as they pass through the legislative process. BTMF will display the status of bills you are interested in and can also send you email updates as the bill's status changes. BTMF is a free service and only requires you to set up an account.
SMS Bill Tracking – Text a bill number to 559-245-2529 to enroll in text alerts. You will receive an enrollment confirmation and instructions on how to stop receiving the alerts.
Access Budget Materials – Both the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget website and the Legislative Finance Division website have helpful tools and presentations relating to the budget.
Chat with Legislative Information Staff – Monday-Friday between 8:30am and 4pm you will find a new chat interface in the lower right corner of The LIO staff can help answer questions about finding things on the legislature’s website, tracking legislation, and contacting legislators. Let us know how we can help you.
Visit the Fairbanks Legislative Information Office – The Fairbanks LIO is a non-partisan state office that helps inform citizens and facilitate communication between the Legislature and the public. Visit the LIO Monday through Friday, 8am – 5pm, on the third floor of the Alaska USA Financial Center, located at 1292 Sadler Way Ste 308; or give them a call at 907-452-4448.
Facebook- like my page Rep. Adam Wool, Fairbanks District 5 for updates throughout the year.
Contact me with your questions, concerns, and ideas. You can always reach me at, and while we are in Juneau for the session call us at 907-465-4976. If you are in Juneau, come visit us on the 5th Floor of the State Capitol in Room 501. 

Best Wishes,