For Immediate Release: March 28th, 2013
Senate Democratic Legislators Offer Amendments to Support Early Education, Veterans and Curb Government Waste
JUNEAU – Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus offered a targeted set of amendments today on the operating budget to support educational programs with proven positive long-term impacts, educational programs for Alaskan veterans, and a 2 billion dollar sweep of funds from the Statutory Budget Reserve to the Permanent Fund.
Senator Hollis French (D-Anchorage) offered three education amendments. His first amendment would address shortfalls in Base Student Allocation funding due to inflation. The amendment will increase funds available for school districts by $60 million in the coming fiscal year, and add intent language that clarifies that it is the intent of the legislature to provide additional increases of $40 million in FY15 and FY16. His second and third amendments sought to increase Pre-K and Parents as Teachers funding by $1.48 million and $242 thousand, respectively. Multiple studies, including some done by Alaska’s Department of Early Education and Development indicate small investments in early education reap immense long-term societal and fiscal benefits.
“According to the Legislative Finance division, K-12 funding available in the classroom lost ground to inflation in FY13. If there is no inflation adjustment for 2014, the base student allocation equivalent will be $11 per student below FY11 funding levels. We’ve spent a lot of time this session talking about natural resource issues, but unless we ensure our childrens’ futures, we will short-change our most important resource,” said Senator Hollis French.
Senator French and Senator Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage) both offered separate amendments on the KABATA project, each seeking to reduce available state funds to a project with questionable long-term economic outcomes.
“The federal government is going broke. Authorizing funds to a project counting on substantial future federal subsidies when we are being told time and time again the funds will not be available just doesn’t make sense,” said Senator Ellis.
Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) offered three amendments supporting veterans’ programs in Alaska. The first would reinstate $80,000 to assist National Guardsman with enrolling in classes at universities. The second would provide $150,000 to provide one-on-one assistance advising veterans of their earned federal benefits. The third would provide $75,000 for 1/4 of a year operating costs for an interior Alaska cemetery for our service men and women.
“We barely batted an eye giving away 6 billion dollars to the oil industry, so I thought another $300,000 to support those who guard our freedom a worthy investment,” stated Senator Wielechowski.
The final amendment offered by Senator Wielechowski attempted to sweep $2 billion from the Statutory Budget Reserve account to the protected confines of the Permanent Fund.
“With our leaders simultaneously supporting a massive oil wealth giveaway and sky rocketing state budgets, a move to guard the savings made by members of our own caucus these past few years was the prudent fiscal measure,” stated Senator Wielechowski
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