|Protecting Your Rights: Serving Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain|
|February 25, 2016
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Please join me this Saturday to share your thoughts and concerns with all Anchorage legislators. The Anchorage Caucus Public Hearing is this Saturday, February 27 from 11am to 2pm at the Assembly Chambers in the Loussac Library.
As the Legislature continues its work on the budget challenge, it is important that we keep in mind the impacts to our economy and hear your perspective.
Anchorage Caucus Public Hearing:
Join me this Saturday, February 27th, from 11am to 2pm at the Assembly Chamber in the Loussac Library, for the Anchorage Caucus Public Hearing. The Anchorage Caucus is made up of representatives and senators who represent the Anchorage, Girdwood, and Eagle River area. The public hearing is a good opportunity to share your thoughts and concerns with Anchorage legislators and speak about the budget, the Legislative Office Building, or other issues that are important to Alaskans.
Is Alaska in a Recession?
This week, the House Finance Budget Subcommittees wrapped up work. Each subcommittee analyzes a department’s budget, which it forwards to the full Finance Committee for further review. After the Finance Committee recommends a budget, the House votes on the entire operating budget. The goal of budget subcommittees is to find cost savings within each department. Last year, the Legislature cut approximately $400 million from the operating budget and $400 million from the capital budget.
I serve on the budget subcommittees for the Court System, the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Department of Public Safety. This year’s impacts from cost savings to the Court System includes half day court closures on Friday afternoon, which reduces the speed at which the Courts can process filings. In an attempt to become more self-sufficient, the Department of Environmental Conservation is looking at a fee study, which analyzes how much the department can charge to perform its responsibilities of environmental and public health protection. Increasing fees will have an impact on the private sector and on small businesses.
Every dollar cut from the State’s budget has an impact – positive or negative – on the State’s economy. Cost savings alone will not fix the $3.8 billion budget deficit that faces Alaska. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development just published an article that asks, “Is Alaska in a Recession?” The article uses the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) as a guide in its analysis, which uses indicators like gross domestic product, unemployment, personal income, and industrial production. NBER broadly defines a recession as, “a significant decline in economic activity that spreads across the economy.” While the author concludes that it’s too early to tell, he also suggests that a recession in Alaska may have been in recent months.
On the other hand, in a recent Alaska Dispatch article, Moody’s Analytics concluded that Alaska is in a recession. Moody’s, which is an economic and consumer credit analyzer remarks, “The failure of energy prices to rebound has pushed Alaska into recession. Job growth is among the slowest in the nation… Mining and energy related firms have been steadily cutting workers over the past year, and lower state severance tax revenues are pressuring Alaska’s ailing public sector. The jobless rate, at 6.4%, is more than 1 percentage point above the US average even though the labor force is at a five-year low.”
The potential that Alaska is already in a recession is a reminder to stay focused on the budget in the days ahead. We must have a responsible action plan for Alaska.
Public Testimony on the Budget:
I am committed to keeping you informed about opportunities for public testimony on issues relating to the state’s fiscal outlook. The budget is being heard in the House Finance Committee next week and the committee is taking public testimony from Anchorage on Wednesday from 1pm to 4:30pm.
Below is some information the Finance Committee has provided about public testimony. Please contact my office if you have any questions.
We will be collecting responses to our constituent survey through March 1st. After March 1st we will tabulate the responses and let you know the results. You can fill the online survey out here. Thank you to everyone who has already completed the survey!
As always, please let us know if you have other suggestions or concerns.
Rep. Matt Claman
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