End of Special Session

Budget
The legislature has passed HB 2001 which funds the FY16 operating budget. The $5 billion spending plan represents a 9% reduction over FY15 spending. This was a bipartisan effort and I am proud of the work that was accomplished. As chairwoman for the budgets of Department of Environmental Conservation and the Alaska Court System, my work on this budget began last fall. In the face of reduced revenue, my goal from the start has been to avoid disproportionate cuts to our region and to work across party lines to ensure essential services are maintained. Public education, AMHS, and honoring the contractual commitments to our state employees have been some of my top priorities.

House members voting in favor of the budget were Representatives Chenault, Claman, Colver, Edgmon, Foster, Gara, Gattis, Gruenberg, Herron, Hughes, Johnson, Keller, Kreiss-Tomkins, LeDoux, Lynn, Millett, Muñoz, Nageak, Neuman, Olson, Ortiz, Pruitt, Saddler, Seaton, Stutes, Talerico, Tarr, Thompson, Tilton, Vazquez, Wilson, and Wool.

Those voting against the budget were Representatives Drummond, Guttenberg, Josephson, Kawasaki, Kito, Reinbold, and Tuck.

While these last few weeks (and months) have been difficult, I am grateful for the bipartisan work that lead to the final agreement.  Here is a breakdown of the provisions of HB 2001 that led to the final agreement:

Education Funding
$2 million for Pre-K grants
$5,880 to Fully Fund the Base Student Allocation
$700,000 for Parents As Teachers Program

Cost of Living Adjustment
$30.2 million for the 2.5% COLA for Covered and Non-covered Employees

Health and Social Services
$2.5 million for Office of Children Services Front-line Social Workers
$2.8 million for Public Assistance/Senior Benefits

Ferry System
$1.75 million for Alaska Marine Highway System Vessel Operations

Public Broadcasting
$250,000 for Public Broadcasting – Radio

University
$5 million for University of Alaska Statewide Services

Executive Branch-wide
$29.8 million Unallocated Reduction – All Departments
Intent language that states the unallocated reduction results in a minimum number of layoffs and geared toward finding internal agency and department efficiencies.

Alaska Safe Children’s Act
HB 44 – the Alaska Safe Children’s Act – directs public school districts in Alaska to offer K-12 students age appropriate sexual assault awareness and prevention curricula. In addition, a section mandating teen dating violence education in grades 7-12 was included. The section is inspired by the work of the family of Brianna Moore a young woman who was killed in Anchorage last year. Curricula would be developed by a task force and implemented by June 30, 2017. Parents will be able to opt their children out of the training. The bill also requires all teachers and school volunteers who work with students four hours a week or more to receive training in recognizing the signs of childhood sexual abuse.

Yesterday, Representative Millett, sponsor of HB 44, honored the life of Bree Moore and the commitment of her parents to give young people the necessary tools to break away from violent relationships. I had the opportunity to meet with Butch and Cindy Moore, the parents of Bree.

I am happy to be on my way back home to Juneau, and if you have any questions, concerns, or need assistance please contact me at 465-3744 or swing by my office, room 501, in the Capitol.

Sincerely,
Munoz Signature Blue

Special Session Update

Throughout the budget negotiations I have advocated support for a compromise with the House Minority Democrats which includes full funding to the base student allocation and honoring the contracts with our state employees.

Part of the compromise suggested by Governor Walker is an unallocated cut to the state budget of $29.8 million. It is important that we find consensus on HB 2001 because the alternative, HB 2002, at this point does not include these budget items.

In absence of support for HB 2001, a proposal to move $4.9 billion from the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account into the principal of the Permanent Fund, will be on the table. The money would be deposited and invested in the corpus of the fund. This option would prefund the inflation proofing of the Permanent Fund for the next 5 years. According to the Chief Financial Officer, this transfer would not impact Permanent Fund Dividends and would allow the Legislature to access the Constitutional Budget Reserve by a simple majority vote.

My preference continues to be a negotiated agreement with the Minority. We will find a solution to fully fund the budget and I continue to push for a solution that gets us there.

Sincerely,

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Rep  Cathy MunozREPRESENTATIVE
CATHY MUÑOZ

State Capitol, Room 501
Juneau, AK 99801-1182
(907) 465-3744 (Office)
(907) 465-2273 (Fax)

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Bonnie Gruening
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Terry Harvey
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Crystal Koeneman
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Maily Miramontes
UAS Intern
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20150327_MunozPresenting HB 146 on the House Floor

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March 27, 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

With 23 days to go, things are moving quickly. The Senate is closing out the operating budget and has revised some of the House’s budget numbers. We are analyzing the changes and the effects on our community. Beginning Monday, March 30, the Senate Finance Committee will hear public testimony from Juneau from 1:30-3pm.

Personal Legislation
HB 146 passed the House of Representatives this morning! This bill will give municipalities the option to provide an incentive to develop land for housing by exempting, for up to five years, a property tax increase associated with subdivision of property into three or more parcels. The Affordable Housing Commission and the Southeast Alaska Homebuilder’s Association brought this issue to our attention.

 HB 41 in House Finance had a hearing this week and will be brought back up on Wednesday for committee discussion. HB 41 re-establishes the sport fishing guide and operator licenses which sunsetted on December 31, 2014.

HB 143 will be heard in House Finance on Tuesday. This bill authorizes the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to consider issuance of bond financing for a hydroelectric project at Sweetheart Lake. The project would benefit Juneau with increased energy capacity and the delivery of hydropower to the Kensington Gold Mine.

HB 158 establishes an environmental fee of one cent a gallon on refined fuel sold, transferred, or used in the state. The revenue generated by this surcharge would help to fund oil spill prevention and clean-up. The bill will receive a second hearing next Wednesday in House Finance.

Coffee with Cathy!
Coffee, tea, pastries, and cookies will be provided. The constituent meeting will take place this Sunday, from 2:00pm – 4:00pm, in the Nugget Mall community room across from Hearthside Books. Hope to see you there!

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As always, please contact my office if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,
Munoz Signature Blue
Cathy Muñoz
Alaska State Representative
District 34

Email: Rep.Cathy.Munoz@akleg.gov

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Coffee with Cathy!

March 25, 2015

Rep. Cathy Muñoz to hold constituent meeting at the Nugget Mall community room
Sunday, March 29, 2:00pm – 4:00pm

Juneau, Alaska – Juneau Representative Cathy Muñoz will hold a constituent meeting and legislative update this Sunday at the Nugget Mall.

Billed as “Coffee with Cathy,” the event is for those who want to discuss issues facing the Alaska Legislature or other concerns.

Coffee, tea, pastries, and cookies will be provided by Abby’s Kitchen.

The meeting will take place in the Nugget Mall community room across from Hearthside Books.

It will take place Sunday, from 2:00pm – 4:00pm.

For more information, call 465-3744.

Rep  Cathy MunozREPRESENTATIVE
CATHY MUÑOZ

State Capitol, Room 501
Juneau, AK 99801-1182
(907) 465-3744 (Office)
(907) 465-2273 (Fax)

Write me an email
Subscribe
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STAFF
Bonnie Gruening
Bonnie.Gruening@akleg.gov

Terry Harvey
Terry.Harvey@akleg.gov

Crystal Koeneman
Crystal.Koeneman@akleg.gov

Maily Miramontes
UAS Intern
Maily.Miramontes@akleg.gov

Munoz House Floor

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March 13, 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Yesterday the House of Representatives passed Fiscal Year 2016 statewide operating and mental health budgets (HB 72 & 73). The House Finance Committee version of the budget reduces agency operations by 10 percent over last year and $229 million less in non-formula unrestricted general funds.

Some important Finance Committee amendment highlights for Southeast include:

  • $10.8 million to the University of Alaska state-wide to restore 75 of the 178 cut positions
  • $645 thousand to fund operations of the Southeast Forestry office, including three positions in Ketchikan and one position in Juneau
  • $530 thousand for statewide youth courts
  • $2.5 million for the Construction Academies which support career education for youth and adults including the JDHS Home Construction Program
  • $6 million for the Marine Highway System which includes $700 thousand of general fund dollars, shifting $3.5 million from Services, Commodities, and Fuel to lessen the impact of service levels, and the authority to raise $1.8 million in revenue through a 4.5% fare increase. If the intent of the amendment is followed, funds from those components will be shifted into personal services (ferry operations). This could restore four of the six service cuts.
  • APOC office to remain open in Juneau
  • $1.5 million restored for public broadcasting

There is still more work to be done and difficult times require difficult choices. Medicaid reform and expansion, and education funding are still on the table. It is important to stay engaged through the rest of the process as the bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. To the left are some links to help you track the bill through the process and ways in which you can continue to have your voice heard.

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As always, please feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or concerns.
Sincerely,
Munoz Signature Blue
Cathy Muñoz
Alaska State Representative
District 34

Email: Rep.Cathy.Munoz@akleg.gov

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