MARCH 11, 2016
Representing District 17:
Midtown, University, and East Anchorage
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Juneau, AK 99801
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All About the Budget
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Rep. Josephson speaks to one of 31 amendments last night
If you picked up a newspaper today or were browsing the web before work, I am sure you saw a story about last night’s lengthy House Floor Session, and I’m also sure there were more than a few questions. I will try to answer as many as I can in the course of this brief E-newsletter.
Yes, it is true that we did not get off the floor until just after 3:30am Friday morning. Yes, it is true that the Independent Democratic Caucus ran 31 amendments to the FY17 Operating Budget. And, yes, it is true that none of those amendments were accepted. Some may question why we would go through an exercise such as this when we know that none of our amendments will be accepted.
I believe my colleague, Rep. Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks), said it best when he said on the floor, “I don’t feel beat up at all because I know that these amendments are not the amendments of the Independent Democratic Coalition or myself. These amendments for Senior Benefits were for Pearl; the amendments for Parents as Teachers & Early Education were for Jimmy; and the amendment to support the University in its endeavors to teach and train the next generations of Alaskans was for that 15 year old.”
A budget is a moral document that shows where a society places value. I believe that this budget shows some misplaced priorities. Undoubtedly, there were cuts that needed to be made to government. I don’t believe you will find a single member of the Alaska Legislature that does not accept that. But, there is a line between targeted cuts that focus on inefficiencies and duplication and cuts that are made without much thought to the populations that they will effect.
Even if all of our amendments were accepted last night we (the House Independent Democratic Caucus) still would have cut over $100 million from the Operating Budget. That is more than the Governor cut in his budget and it would not adversely affect some of the least among us. Currently, the oil industry is being held harmless and while I understand their importance to Alaska’s economy I do not believe that we can afford to subsidize them at the levels we have been. Especially not when we are making such drastic cuts to agencies such as the University of Alaska or Early Education.
To illustrate further, the budget we passed (over my “no” vote) cuts $283 million, year-to-year between FY16 and FY17. Dr. Gunnar Knapp of ISER (UAA) reports that the net effect will amount to about $4,500 jobs lost. This is almost wholly unnecessary, which is partly why I voted “no”.
Like many of my colleagues said on the floor, this is still very early in the process and many changes are still going to be made before the session is over. I look forward to those discussions and hope that in the future we can come to a more favorable conclusion that will garner bipartisan support.
As always, please call or email with any thoughts, ideas, or concerns.
I Answer to You!
Representative Andy Josephson
State Capitol Bldg., Room 430