|The 5th Special Session|
Wow... Today the House of Representatives gaveled out of the 5th Special Session. The Senate is expected to follow on Monday. I join many Alaskans in being blown away at the total lack of commitment to coming to a solution to our fiscal gap.
The lack of a fiscal plan coming out of this special session means we will fund our state government operations out of savings—the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR)—this year. Thanks to both Republican and Democratic legislators several years ago, we have $8 billion in the Constitutional Budget Reserve to tide us over. We are fortunate to have enough money in the CBR to fund government in this fiscal year. However, I hope in the future cooler heads will come together to make the difficult decisions that need to be made. We need a sustainable and fair fiscal plan.
When I was sworn in on March 10th I came with a commitment to resolve our budget crisis. Frankly, I am shocked to find no appetite amongst many of my colleagues to address our fiscal gap. During my first month this spring I could hardly believe my ears when people told me, time and time again, “revenue measures are off the table—they are dead.”
Part of the problem is a lack of agreement about its scope and magnitude. Sadly, there are many who believe that we should continue to cut our way out of this problem. While I agree that we should be looking for efficiencies and divest ourselves of money pit projects like the Knik Arm Bridge and Susitna-Watana dam, we cannot cut our way out of this $3.5 billion problem. If we were to lay off every single state employee we would still have a huge fiscal gap and we would have no state troopers, no health inspectors, no fisheries management and worse.
Some people think that we can wait for oil prices to rise again. While I, too, have hope that oil prices will rise, hope is not a strategy. Instead, we need a plan.
Now the governor has said that he must make deep cuts, cuts that will affect the core of services that our district has said are critical including education. While some of my legislative colleagues have said that we should make deep systemic cuts to education, the people of District 16 have spoken loud and clear to me: education is your top priority. It’s my top priority too. Let’s make sure that we figure out how to pay for this essential service.
I have tried to keep this outline of our fiscal situation short and to the point. I hope that it is helpful to you. If you have additional questions, please give me a call at 269-0123 or email me at email@example.com.
Second Saturday Coffee with Ivy
Throughout the summer and fall come join me for coffee at Waffle Rush on the second Saturday of the month from 10:00 to 11:00am to chat. I would love to hear your ideas about what we should be doing in state government to better serve East Anchorage and Alaskans.
Second Saturdays at Waffle Rush 6307 Debarr Road
· August 13th
· September 10th
· October 8th
· November 12th
Hope to see and hear from you!