Rep. Adam Wool's 
Update from Juneau:
House Budget News



Dear Friends, Neighbors, and Fellow Fairbanksans, 

Last Thursday, the House passed its version of the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) operating budget, with Democrats, Republicans, and Independents voting to pass a budget which aims to protect Alaska’s education, public safety, transportation, and health care programs. While I do not feel that the budget is perfect, it is a great improvement on the budget proposed by the governor two months ago.


After the House Finance committee and subcommittees spent weeks analyzing and amending the budget, we spent three days voting on amendments before ultimately passing a budget which cuts over $200M in spending while avoiding the draconian, unsustainable cuts proposed by the governor. The impact of every single cut was carefully analyzed, with the goal of streamlining government without wrecking the economy.

In the University subcommittee, in an attempt to ameloriate some of the effects of previous cuts, I offered (and the committee accepted) an amendment which added $10M to the University budget. The finance committee then stripped this amendment and reduced the University budget by an additional $10M. I offered the same amendment on the House floor. Many amendments (including mine) were ‘rolled to the bottom’ and were ultimately not considered. While I am glad that we avoided a lengthy debate regarding guns on campus or abortion restrictions (neither of which have a thing to do with the budget), I was frustrated that the House chose to reduce the University budget.

On the flip side, K-12 education funding escaped unscathed. Loads of research demonstrate that investments in early education pay massive returns; an investment in our children is truly an investment in our future, and the cuts to education over the last few years have run counter to Alaska’s long-term health and well-being.

Over the last few months, those of us in the Legislature have heard from thousands of Alaskans who have delivered us a constant, coherent message – while spending might be reduced, budget cuts without regard for their effect is a disaster waiting to happen. The overall message I’ve been hearing is “don’t cut essential services such as education, the University, and Medicaid.” I’ve also heard, “I’d be willing to take a smaller PFD and pay taxes.” If we fund the budget to the same extent as last year, we’d still be able to provide a family of four around $3000 in PFD payments. Many people have asked me, “Where’s the crisis?”

Representative Wool speaks to a budget amendment on the House floor.

The House budget cuts:

  • $73M was cut from the Department of Health and Social Services Budget, mainly through efficiencies in Medicaid.
  • $49M was cut from the school bond debt reimbursement program, meaning local governments will have to contribute more to build/improve schools. The full finance committee had initially eliminated this program entirely, which would have prompted even greater cost-shifting to local government.
  • $14.5M was cut from the Department of Transportation budget, with $10M cut from the Alaska Marine Highway System. It is hoped that this will prompt greater efficiencies while avoiding the governor’s approach, which would have ended ferry service October 1st.
  • $13M was cut from the Department of Corrections, in an attempt to limit the state from continuing to send prisoners out of state (which is both more expensive and results in worse long-term outcomes).
  • $10M was cut from the University of Alaska. The University has seen its budget cut repeatedly in recent years, and in both subcommittee and on the House floor, I offered amendments to add $10M to its budget. Unfortunately, these additions were not ultimately accepted. The governor’s budget would have cut $134M from the University.

During the budgeting process, all of the governor’s proposed cuts were vetted by members of the House during the subcommittee process. Those cuts which could be sustained were, while rejecting those which would have cut public safety, education, transportation, and health care, or raised local taxes.
The budget now travels to the Senate, where it will be amended while it moves from subcommittees to the finance committee, and finally the Senate floor. Eventually, the Senate budget will be reconciled with the House budget in a  conference committee. Then, it will go to the governor for his signature. Governor Dunleavy has repeatedly threatened to use his line item veto authority – if he does, the legislature will have the opportunity to consider a veto override.

Coming up:
Today, the House and Senate will be voting on all of the governor’s appointees. There have been a number of controversial appointees this year, and this confirmation session is likely to have a higher number of divided votes than typically occurs. It should be an action-packed joint committee, scheduled for this Wednesday at 1 pm.

Rep. Wool with Alyssa Quintyne, Thalia Jacobs, and Corky Mikol, constituents visiting from the Alaska Center.


Guests in the Capitol
It’s always great to see constituents in Juneau, and recently I and my staff have met with folks from the Fairbanks Bankers Association, the Alaska Center, the Fairbanks School Board, and the Fairbanks City Council. If you find yourself in the area, I’d love to see you and hear about the issues that are important to you, or just stop by to say “hi!”


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 4th Floor of the State Capitol in Room 412. 



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