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March 22, 2016
PFD Application Deadline and other Updates
As often happens this time of year, things are moving very quickly during the last month of this scheduled 90 session. Sometimes I will need to give you short notice about important upcoming opportunities and deadlines, and I appreciate your bearing with me.
Here are some recent developments that you should be aware of:
PFD Deadline Approaches
The deadline to file for your Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend is March 31. Click on the link below to file online:
Thursday: Public Testimony on Governor’s Plan for the Permanent Fund
Thursday, March 24, the Senate Finance Committee will open public testimony at different times around the state for SB 128, the Governor’s bill to restructure the Permanent Fund to divide revenues between dividends and state services.
Here are the scheduled times for each community:
You can get more information and related documentation about SB128 at the following link:
Knik Arm Toll Bridge Rejected
Yesterday morning we learned that the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority (KABATA’s) application for $378 million in federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loans was rejected. This is the 7th such rejection, and in her letter, TIFIA Chief Financial Officer, Shoshana Lew, cited “aggressive assumptions in your traffic and revenue study” in informing KABATA/DOT project financial officer Kevin Hemenway that TIFIA is “suspending review” of the application since the application could not meet “(US)DOT underwriting standards.”
Last week when the Operating Budget was on the House floor, my colleagues and I in the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition offered amendments to eliminate state funding for KABATA and other unrealistic government megaprojects, including the road to Juneau, the seldom used Kodiak rocket launch facility, and the unpopular U-Med Road.
Our amendments failed to pass because of straight party politics, but we at least put it on the public record that we are opposed to wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on unneeded pork barrel projects when poor senior citizens and other vulnerable Alaskans might be helped for a fraction of the cost.
Governor’s Revised Revenue Forecast Shows Growing Fiscal Gap
Yesterday, Governor Walker’s Administration released the revised revenue forecast for Fiscal Year 2017. Lower than expected oil prices have caused the projected budget gap to increase by an additional $300 million. Cutting our way out of the crisis is now an even more unrealistic idea. Clearly we can no longer afford to support money losing megaprojects, nor maintain our current oil tax practices which subsidize North Slope production by several hundred million dollars per year.
As we consider making the necessary hard choices, we must look at the overall effects on the economy and not expect regular Alaskans to shoulder the burden alone. There are those who would like to take a piecemeal approach to resolving the fiscal crisis, but if we don’t insist on a balanced approach now, we may never get another chance to implement a fair plan again.
I’m here for you, so please keep in touch on matters important to you and your family!
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