April 27, 2015
Serving Midtown, Spenard, and UMed
State Capitol Bldg. Rm 9
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Governor Bill Walker
Lt. Governor Byron Mallot
The Heart of this Session
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Here we are, still in Juneau on day 98 of a 90 day legislative session. Negotiations are ongoing and hopefully we will conclude business soon. Over the past few days, I have had time to reflect on what this session was really about. I remind myself that the budget is not just about money. It is a way of translating our values and vision into dollars and cents. The current gridlock is a demonstration of the clash of two different sets of values.
A budget crafted by Democrats would look very different from the one we have. Our budget would protect the interests of children, working families, communities, the working poor, and senior Alaskans instead of focusing on the interests of corporations. Our budget would fund contracts for state workers and school teachers instead of fat cats like the AHFC official whose compensation package is valued at $420,000/year. Our budget would cut funding for unwanted, unnecessary projects like the UMed Road and KABATA, or the $2 million for Mt McKinley Meat and Sausage plant, a privately owned Mat-Su business, instead of breaking our promises to schools. Our budget would focus on cutting credits, not kids.
This month alone we have received thousands of emails voicing support for both public education and Medicaid expansion. During my 10 years in the Capitol, I have never seen a such a strong public outcry. I am grateful to know that the public is very aware what is going on down here and extremely engaged. (Incidentally, those of you writing to legislators might want to tell Senator Kelly that Alaskans expressing their opinions and concerns are NOT special interests.)
We know we cannot cut our way out of a deficit of this size, and the cuts we make have to be thoughtful, and avoid unnecessary damage. In the current form, budget that is before us now fails Alaskans, breaks promises and turns a blind eye to opportunity. The House and Senate Democrats will continue to seek a budget that benefits Alaskans.
I’m Berta and I’m still listening,
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office