Update on Budget & Legislative Bills
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It’s been a busy week! House Resource Committee meetings have been almost every day of the week, sometimes twice a day, and occasionally three times if more time is needed. This week, we’re considering Governor Walker’s oil and gas tax credits bill. Governor Walker proposed this review of our current policies because the cost to the state has skyrocketed, and this year could cost more than a billion dollars. The current program is simply not sustainable.
This is one of the key pieces of Governor Walker’s Sustainable Alaska Fiscal Plan, and if it passes it is estimated to have a positive economic impact of roughly $500 million annually to the State of Alaska. In an effort to make an informed decision on the bill we have heard from members of the Walker administration, industry experts and oil and gas consultants. I look forward to moving an improved version of the bill out of the Resources Committee before long.
The House voted on the operating budget last night. We didn’t finish until almost 4 am. I voted no on this budget because there are a number of cuts to the budget that I am not comfortable with: cuts to Senior Benefits, education and university funding, among others. I am working with my colleagues to reverse these cuts and ensure the budget is not balanced on the backs of working Alaskans.
I offered an amendment to pull back the funding for the Bragaw extension (U-Med Northern Access Rd.) because Mayor Berkowitz has put this project on hold. Today, about $18 million of the original $20 million dollar appropriation is unspent. These dollars can be used for critical state services by being returned to the state general fund. I cannot support a budget that cuts Senior Benefits for our most needy Alaskans while keeping funding for a project that is not moving forward. When we work on the budget, people talk a lot about priorities and some suggest we just can’t afford to do it all. I agree 100% with that, and that’s why I’ve worked with my colleagues to make smart cuts that don’t harm people while maintaining essential state services.
TOMORROW! PLEASE JOIN US!
The Community Councils are pleased to invite you to help plan the future of our beautiful city. The Long Range Planning Division has just released the Community Discussion Draft of the Anchorage Bowl Land Use Plan Map. This is a Map that will shape the way the community will grow over the next 20 years: How it will provide the housing, jobs, commerce, and industry, while preserving the open spaces, parks, and wildlife that make Anchorage so special.
The map moves Anchorage 2020: the Anchorage Bowl ComprehensivePlan forward, and takes into account all the neighborhood and district plans, re-zonings, and other changes in the community since it was adopted in 2001. The last official Anchorage Bowl Land Use Plan Map was adopted in 1982.
You are invited to join the evening of Tuesday March 15th to discuss the map with the Municipality's Long Range Planners and other Community Council members from across the Bowl. These meetings are open to the public, so you are welcome to bring a guest if you like. There will also be open houses 2-5 p.m. Tuesday March 15th and Wednesday 16th at the UAA Consortium Library Room 307. After the Open House, there will a workshop from 6-8:30 pm where we hope to bring together Community Councils to participate in more focused discussion of the map.
The Friends of the Library will be sponsoring a Rare Book Auction at the Petroleum Club of Anchorage – 3301 C St. #120, Anchorage, AK 99503 – Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Preview and Silent Auction at 7:00 pm, Outcry Auction at 8:00 pm. A fine selection of wines, appetizers and desserts will be served. Tickets are $35 and available online. A catalogue of auction items is also available here.