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|Volume 7: Issue 15
||June 11th, 2015
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Finally, we finished the 9th longest legislative session in Alaska history. It’s the second-most days we’ve spent in session since the voters amended the constitution in the mid-80’s to hold us to 121 days. And the only time the legislature spent more days in session since then was 2006, but they actually finished the budget on the last day of the regular session and spent the overtime on other bills.
State government will keep running without an interruption. I worked to make sure we passed the budget and honored our contracts with Alaska’s dedicated public employees. Part of the compromise also included fair treatment for the thousands of public employees at the Court System, Department of Law, student loan corporation, and others, who don’t have contracts but were promised the same pay this year.
The budget cuts did not go deep enough in some areas, and went too deep in some others that I care about. We prevented deeper cuts in education than some of my colleagues proposed. While the one-time funds the law promised for the coming year were cut, we prevented hacking into the base student allocation.
And there is some good news: the House Minority negotiators added $1.75 million back to the ferry system so it will not be entirely disabled this summer. They also made the cuts to public broadcasting a little smaller, and reduced a deep cut to needy senior citizens. I’ll keep fighting to keep coastal Alaska connected, rural Alaska on the air, and to take care of our elders.
There’s lots of work left undone. The biggest piece is Medicaid expansion and reform, which will save our state money, help tens of thousands of working Alaskans get health care, and keep our hospitals solvent. Next session we’ll probably have to renew the effort to keep Alaska on Daylight Saving Time. And we need to find ways to make sure Alaska gets our fair share of our natural resources - including our oil and gas.
In spite of all my griping, I’m actually looking forward to one more special session. I hope we have one late this fall to move forward a gasline project. All Alaskans will benefit when we get these resources to market in a way that builds Alaska’s economy and benefits the entire state.
I’ll end with another piece of great news: the Alaska Safe Children Act came to the floor today and passed the Senate unanimously (and there was only one ‘no’ vote in the House!) The bill had the key pieces of ‘Erin’s law:’ teaching all Alaska school children in an age-appropriate way about sexual abuse, how to prevent it, and where to get help. The law also means Alaska teens will get education on dating violence. While it picked up a couple of unrelated hitchhiker provisions, the really unacceptable ones got removed before it came to the floor. Alaska’s children will be safer in coming years, and I was proud to sign on as a cosponsor.
Alaska State Senator
Web Site: http://alaskasenatedems.com/egan/
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