Volume 9: Issue 7                                      March 17, 2017 

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I need that second cup of coffee to keep up with the activity in this building.  Here's to the staff person in Sen. Coghill's office who made sure my coffee cup was decorated right for St. Patrick's Day!
Part Of A Fiscal Plan Won't Do   
 
This week I voted against just using permanent fund earnings instead of a fiscal plan.  SB 26 passed the Senate on a 12-8 vote.
 
Alaska will have to use some Permanent Fund earnings if we want the kind of state that educates kids and manages our resources.  We've cut the budget for three years running, and there are more cuts this year.  But just cutting the budget and using earnings won't close the gap.
 
Our state also needs a broad based tax that ties government spending to the health of the economy.  An income tax does that, and also gets a contribution from people who don't live in Alaska, but do work here.  It also balances out the fact using Permanent Fund earnings hits poor Alaskans the hardest.
 
Using some earnings can be part of a plan - as long as we protect the dividend.  But half a plan won't do.
Keeping Alaskans Working!
 
Corey Baxter and Joe Rintala from Juneau joined Waylon Knudson from Anchorage to share their perspective on the importance of State sponsored infrastructure projects.
 
Budget Battles
While the news focused on hundreds of proposed budget amendments in House Finance and on the House Floor this week, Senate budget subcommittees were working.  I offered two amendments in the ones where I serve.
 
One would have put back the governor's requested amounts for public radio and TV.  The governor didn't ask for enough, but the Senate subcommittee I sat on whacked every nickel of it.  That's not OK, so I'll keep trying to fix it.
 
The subcommittee on DOT also nailed the Marine Highway System for $2 million this year and set it up for another $4 million the next year.  That's on top of the governor's proposed reduction, which is on top of last year's cuts!  That's not sustainable.  AMHS is the road that connects coastal communities, and it moves a lot of Alaskans, freight, tourists... everything an asphalt highway moves!  I haven't gotten the money back in yet, but I'm still working on it.
Richard and Kristie Benavides
 
My colleague Tom Begich has a great staffer in Richard Benavides.  Richard brings expertise from many years working for Sen. Bettye Davis and Sen. Johnny Ellis, among others. This week for the first time, he brought his wife Kristie to the Capitol!  She's nicer than he is.
Some Days I Have to Check My Glasses!
 
The House and Senate have rules about how you dress on the floor.  Men need a jacket and tie, for instance.  The Juneau Empire's James Brooks has a one-of-a-kind take, but he follows the rules!

 
Thanks to these community members for
helping make Southeast a great place to live!
  • Above & Beyond - Legislative Legal Services cranked out hundreds and hundreds of budget amendments for the House Finance Committee and House floor in the last week and a half. Record numbers. At the same time they produced amendments and committee substitutes for every other committee in the House and Senate.  Some of those lawyers and editors have barely slept.  And they're as close to flawless as legal work gets.  Thanks for making the legislature run!
  • Thinking Meow-t of the Box - Gastineau Humane Society has a cool new idea. It's called Seniors for Seniors.  They're waiving the fees for anyone over 62 to adopt a cat over 10.  I like that idea.
  • A Peak Summit - The Southeast Conference had its mid-session summit this week. Thanks to folks from around our region who brainstormed, researched options and educated legislators on how the ferry system can run better.  It's a great example to other parts of Alaska on how every community in a region can pull together to find solutions.

  • Golden Game - The Juneau Lions Club brings hundreds of people to the capital city this week to play the 71st annual Gold Medal Basketball tournament.  A lot more of us will watch.  It's a great tradition, and there will be a lot of great basketball.  Kudos (again) to the Juneau Lions!

Thanks for reading Legislative Corner. I hope you'll always feel welcome to contact my office. Just call, write, or use one of the links in this newsletter.
Sincerely,
 
 
 
Dennis Egan
Alaska State Senator
District Q
Sen. Dennis Egan, State Capitol, 4th Avenue & Main Street, Juneau, AK 99801