State Budget Update, March 17th
Good Afternoon Everyone,
The session is moving so quickly right now. This week, we were so proud to see legislation protecting the health and welfare of families left behind following the death of a public safety officer unanimously pass the house. Meanwhile, the House Republican Caucus was stymied in its mission to address the state’s multibillion dollar budget gap with smart, targeted reductions to the operating budget.
As the session continues, please keep in touch on the budget or anything else important to you and your family.
This week amendments to the House’s version of the State Budget were debated on the floor. There were a multitude of amendments from our House Republicans to reduce the size of government, totaling over $100 million. There were more important budget reductions, and opportunities for common ground awaiting discussion, but the House Democrats cut off debate today, leaving many ideas in the dark. Some of the proposed cuts included reductions to slush-funds, premium pay, and empty positions. Unfortunately, House Democrats chose to reject every cost-savings opportunity, and instead voted to grow the budget this year.
There is a substantial need for action on our financial situation this year, and the Governor and Legislature alike have acknowledged that a fiscal plan must include a reduction to our current unsustainable state spending. Our budget does not reflect our revenue constraints, and still includes spending that could be reduced without negatively impacting Alaskans. We sincerely hope that as the budget continues to move through the legislative process, our need to down-size is taken seriously, and a firmer grip is found on our state spending.
Honoring our Fallen Heroes
We were so proud to see House Bill 23 unanimously pass the Alaska State House on Monday. The legislation provides health benefits for surviving families of fallen public safety officers. Those who make the ultimate sacrifice protecting our families should know that their families will also be cared for.
This bill was the product of substantial time and effort, and over six years of hard work by many stakeholders and representatives. Brandy Johnson, the wife of fallen Sgt. Scott Johnson, who was brutally murdered while serving Alaskans, has been the ultimate advocate for this critical coverage, not only for her family, but for all current and future public safety officers and their families. Alaskans truly owe Brandy a debt of gratitude, as does our office for all of her help and support while working on this important legislation. Thank you to all who have dedicated so much time and effort to see this bill through the House.
The March meeting of the Abbott Loop Community Council will be held next Thursday, March 30 at Abbott Loop Elementary School. Here is the agenda. On Tuesday, the Anchorage Assembly will hold a regular meeting starting at 5:00 p.m.
The high school soccer season kicks off next weekend with the boys and girls teams visiting Colony High in Palmer on Saturday the 25th, the ladies take the field at noon and the boys’ team at 4:00 p.m.
It was a tough season for the Lady Cougars basketball squad but they played every game with pride and poise. The boy’s team, led by leading scorers Nathan Fromm and Dominic Norman finished third in the Cook Inlet Conference Championships last week. Congratulations to both teams for their hard work.
We also want to give a big congratulations to Service High graduate and District 25 constituent Jeff Overbaugh. Jeff signed a contract with the Denver Broncos football team and will compete for the position of long snapper once training camp begins later this year.
March 31 is coming fast! It is the deadline to apply for your 2017 Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend. If you have any questions about the application process call the Anchorage PFD office at 269-0370, or check out the FAQ webpage at http://pfd.alaska.gov/FAQ
That is all for now, but we will be back next week with much more from Juneau and please remember to reach out to us anytime with your thoughts, concerns and ideas.
Our toll free number is 888-269-3879. We are listening.