House Finance Passes Operating Budget

The House Finance Committee has passed the FY17 operating budget representing roughly a $280 million reduction over FY16 numbers. This brings the state closer to a sustainable target for spending. Many difficult cuts are proposed but the operating budget fully funds K-12 education and maintains current funding for AMHS. All changes, such as cuts to the University, are subject to negotiation between the House and Senate in the coming weeks.

My focus is to balance the budget and prevent unsustainable cuts to vital services such as AMHS, K-12 education, and behavioral health. Additionally, as Chair of the Alaska Court System and Department of Environmental Conservation Subcommittee budgets, we have worked to implement cost saving measures, such as furloughs and half day court closures, to prevent job loss.

Despite challenging times, I am pleased with the Finance Committee’s decision to strengthen behavioral health funding. These funds will be focused on a three year pilot project to better equip communities in dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. With heroin addiction at unprecedented levels, investments in prevention and rehabilitation are needed.

Additionally, an amendment passed allocating funds to create a new public integrity unit within the Department of Law. The public integrity unit was formed in response to the high rate of prisoner deaths in 2016.

The House Finance Committee will next turn to oil tax credit reform and revenue bills, including the three Permanent Fund Earnings concepts: HB 224; HB 245; and HB 303/SB114. To stay engaged in the process visit the Alaska State Legislature website where you can view committee schedules, bill status, and watch meetings live online, or call me at 465-3744 for updates.

Special Session Wrap-up November 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors,HB 3001 photo

With a unanimous vote, the House has passed SB 3001 and the special session has adjourned. The bill presented by the Governor Walker enables the purchase of TransCanada’s interest in the Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas (AKLNG) project. Over the past couple weeks many hours have been spent carefully listening and asking difficult questions which developed a clear record supporting the buy-out.

SB 138 passed in 2014 creating the framework for the State of Alaska to participate in the development of the AKLNG project as an equal partner with Conoco/Phillips, BP and Exxon. The vision is a market driven approach, with the partners working together on an integrated project at all points in the value chain. There are four aspects to AKLNG: the gas, the gas treatment plant, the pipeline, and the liquefaction plant.

Going forward, it is important to retain the fundamental principles of the AKLNG partnership, and I am encouraged that the Administration supports this goal. There are still considerable hurdles, but I am confident we are on track to achieving this monumental goal.

With passage of SB 3001, the state will now have a full 25% share in the project, full voting rights, and the ability to generate greater returns once the project is built. The next few years will be critical to our success. We need bi-partisan budget solutions and we will need to show courage and common purpose.

Click the link below to watch.

Thank you for the honor to represent you. Please don’t hesitate to call or email if I can be of assistance to you. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!


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