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:
$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
$1.75 million for Alaska Marine Highway System Vessel Operations
$250,000 for Public Broadcasting – Radio
$5 million for University of Alaska Statewide Services
$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.