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Budget Deal Allows Lawmakers to Turn Full Attention to Fixing Out of Control Oil Industry Subsidies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 31, 2016

Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature passed fully funded budgets for the next fiscal year that removes the threat of the first ever government shutdown in Alaska.  The operating and capital budgets were passed with significant support from members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition (AIDC) after weeks of bipartisan negotiations between the Minority and Majority Caucuses in both the House of Representatives and Senate.

“I voted for the budget deal because I will not be a part of playing on the fear and uncertainty of Alaskans by threatening a government shutdown.  These budgets are not perfect but they represent a willingness by our Coalition members to seek bipartisan solutions to protect Alaska’s economy,” said House Finance Committee member Representative David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks).  “I am especially proud we were able to restore the millions of dollars the Republican Majorities cut from the University of Alaska budget.  We need a vibrant University so ideas and innovation can be applied to our great state.  This is vital in creating a strong diversified economy.”

As part of the negotiated budget deal, all previously cut funding for early learning programs like Pre-K, Parents as Teachers, and Best Beginnings was restored.  The budget deal also restores the promised $50 increase to the Base Student Allocation for Alaska’s public school, which was cut at the last-minute by the Republicans in the budget Conference Committee.  The compromise budget also restores the budget for the University of Alaska to the level originally proposed by Governor Walker.

“We stood strong for public education and were ultimately able to prevent short-sighted and dangerous cuts that would jeopardize the future of our children,” said House Finance Committee member Representative Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks).  “It took some time and effort, but we ultimately prevailed and convinced a majority of lawmakers that it’s irresponsible to try and balance the budget by jeopardizing the educational opportunities of Alaskans.” 

By wrapping up work on the budget, the members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition can now turn their undivided attention to working on the components Governor Walker has identified as key to long-term fiscal sustainability, including reforming the unsustainable system of providing tax credits and incentives to the oil industry.

“Passing a budget does not mean our work is done,” said AIDC Leader Representative Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage).  “Our Coalition wants a comprehensive fiscal plan.  That begins with fixing our flawed system of subsidizing the oil industry with hundreds of millions of dollars a year.  That will be our number one focus for the remainder of the Special Session.”

For more information, contact Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.

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