Senator Donald Olson
Senate Finance Committee
Senate Special Committee
on the Arctic
Toll Free Year Round:
State Capitol, Room 504
Juneau, AK 99801
(907) 465-4821 Fax
PO Box 1630
Nome, Alaska 99762
716 West 4th Ave. Ste 207
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 269-2031 Fax
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Office of the Governor
30th Alaska Legislature
February 7, 2017
Happy New Year
Warm wishes for the new year, it has certainly brought an interesting legislative session down in Juneau. Some major changes have occurred:
- We have a new representative for House District 40 – Representative Dean Westlake – this is his first session down in Juneau and I look forward to working with him
- Representative Neal Foster (House District 39) has been chosen to co-chair the House Finance Committee, this is a huge benefit for our district.
This session I retained my seat on both the Finance Committee and the Special Committee on Arctic. I am prepared to address the budget deficit with my colleagues. My focus is on minimizing the impact in Rural Alaska.
Planning for Fiscal Year 2018 brings some grave challenges to the state. If we keep on the state’s current path, specifically with no new revenue sources, we will deplete the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR) which has just enough to fund this year’s budget. That being said, with no other option to fund state government, beginning in FY 2019 we will have to dip into the Earnings Reserve Account (ERA) which is the savings account that pays out the state dividend to fund state government. Dipping into that savings account to pay for state government would lead to no dividends being paid out after 2020. This is why I believe it is incumbent on us as legislators to act this year.
Governor’s FY18 Budget
Governor Walker released his proposed budget on schedule on December 15, 2016. His budget proposal includes:
• Additional cuts to operating costs. His operating budget requests $9.5 billion in total, $4.9 Billion of which is unrestricted general funds (GF);
• A bare bones capital budget totaling $1.4 billion, with $115 million of unrestricted general funds included, in order to secure federal funds;
• The Governor’s total budget proposal contains reductions amounting to approximately $28 million;
• An increase (doubled) to the motor fuel tax;
• And a proposal to restructure the Permanent Fund Earning Reserve Account (ERA);
• Assuming new revenues are approved along with the budget as proposed, it leaves a deficit of $892 million, which would be filled with a draw from the Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund (CBR)
This is the first of many steps in the process, and of course, both the Senate and the House will make changes to the budget before it becomes final. The next step is for the Senate and House to start reviewing the Governor’s proposal in detail during the sub-committee process. We have been hearing overviews from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), our Legislative Finance Director, and other state agencies during our Finance committee hearings.
If you are interested in following along, you can track legislation, meeting times and dates, and find documents related to legislation at: www.akleg.gov/basis/Home/BillsandLaws. Stay tuned for more information throughout the session.
My staff this year in Juneau includes: Denise Liccioli, Finance Aide; Jacquelyn Boyer, Legislative Aide; and John Hanlon, First Alaskans Fellow. Out of Juneau, I still have the wonderful Cynthia Erickson based in the interior who is my jack of all trades.
L to R: Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, Jacquelyn Boyer, Denise Liccioli, John Hanlon, Senator Olson after the Oath of Office signing ceremony.
The Fairbanks International Airport Operators’ Council is accepting scholarship applications for those pursuing a career in piloting, maintenance, airport or aviation management. If you or someone you know is interested in applying for a scholarship, please visit: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5obxhHBU8UseV8zTVU5Mm5jdHc/view to find out more information about qualifications.
The application period for this year’s dividend is open! Please be sure to keep a copy of your application saved in case of any discrepancies between you and the department. If you apply by mail, it is also a good idea to keep a receipt as well. As always, please feel free to contact me with any issues you may encounter with the process. To file online please visit: http://pfd.alaska.gov/
In recent months I have become aware of actions in some states in banning ivory. Although this may have been well intentioned to stop the poaching of elephants, it has had a domino effect in my district. Some states have introduced and passed legislation that bans ALL ivory, not just illegally obtained ivory. This has a disastrous impact on my district and those who obtain ivory legally through byproducts of subsistence. I have introduced Senate Joint Resolution 4: Urging the Alaska Congressional delegation to introduce bills to provide for the exemption of legally acquired walrus, mammoth, and mastodon ivory from laws that ban the sale, use, and possession of ivory. This resolution urges our federal delegation to address this matter, as a State Senator, my powers are limited to state action.
To read more about this legislation, please visit: http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Detail/30?Root=SJR%20%204
Or please feel free to give my office a call.
BLM Public Meetings
BLM has announced public meetings that will be held in parts of the district to take public comment and discuss the Central Yukon Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement. The current meetings are scheduled:
- Ruby – February 13 at 5pm in the Community Hall
- Anaktuvuk Pass – February 14 at 5pm in the Community Hall
- Coldfoot and Wiseman- March 8th at 1pm in the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center
Comments and other questions or concerns may also be emailed to CentralYukon@blm.gov through March 17th.
The application period for the First Lady Volunteer of the Year awards is now open until March 6th, if you would like to nominate an outstanding volunteer who continues to make Alaska an even greater place to live, please visit: http://gov.alaska.gov/governor-home/meet-donna-walker/first-lady-volunteer-awards/ for more information.
It’s always a pleasure to meet with constituents from the district, especially when I’m far from home during the session. So far, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with:
Ryan Hodges from White Mountain, Deb Trowbridge from Nome, Doug Walruth from Nome, Bob Hehnlin from Nome, Alice Bioff from Nome, Jeanne Gerhart-Cyrus from Kiana, Anthony Cravalho from Kotzebue, and Tom Cyrus from Kiana.
Senator Donald Olson
Toll free: 1.800.597.3707
Interim Fax: 1.907.269.2031