FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2016
Democrats Introduce Permanent Committee to Thoroughly Vet State Spending & Revenue
JUNEAU – Senate Minority Leader Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) has introduced the senate companion to legislation introduced earlier this week in the Alaska House of Representatives by Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks), Rep. Sam Kito (D-Juneau), and Rep. Matt Claman (D-Anchorage), to create a permanent standing ways and means committee.
The House and Senate Standing Committees on Ways & Means will consider ways to control state spending, identify ways to improve efficiencies in government programs, and thoroughly vet proposals to raise state revenue. They will also allow for additional input from the public on matters of fiscal concern.
Historically, the Alaska Legislature created a House Special Committee on Ways & Means to address these issues. These committees terminated at the end of the 23rd, 24th, and 25th legislative sessions (2003-2008).
“The fiscal crisis which is looming before us requires us to act now, and also to be forward thinking by implementing measures that will improve efficiencies, and analyze methods of raising of revenue,” said Sen. Gardner. “A ways and means committee will also relieve some of the burden on the Finance Committee, and allow for a more effective way to accomplish the task ahead. It will also ensure that we adopt an attitude of fiscal restraint that will carry over into times of prosperity, and hopefully prevent another crisis in the future.”
In addition to efficiencies, the committee would focus on the revenue side of the Legislature’s budgetary decisions, and would complement the duties of the Senate Finance Committee, which also considers proposed legislation that may create additional state spending.
Locally, Commonwealth North is fully supportive of the establishment of a standing ways and means committee. At the federal level, the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee is the oldest committee in Congress. At least 8 state legislatures similar to Alaska’s have permanent ways and means committees that consider revenue measures separately from a committee that addresses appropriations and budgeting.
For more information, contact Jeanne Devon, Press Secretary for the Alaska Senate Democrats (907) 465-5319