2017 Action Alert #10

I am sending this out because it is most likely the most  important issue that faces citizens of this state at the current time.  The information box below from Great Alaska Schools is well done and explains clearly where the budget is at.  We need to make our voices heard.  The House has completed a major task in HB 115, which would reinstate an income tax.  We need the additional revenue rather than another draw on savings accounts.  The Senate plan is to make continued cuts in their attempt to balance the budget and these cuts include a 5.7% cut to education as well as other public services.

Hearings will be held next week from Tuesday thru Saturday on HB 115 in the Senate Labor and Commerce committee (Chair: Costello; other members: Hughes, Meyer, Stevens, and Gardner). The hearing schedule is not listed on BASIS yet, but we can email the committee members as well as our own Senator and let them know that we support additional revenue to balance the state budget that will decrease our dependency on the oil industry and increase state budget stability.  Use the talking points provided by Great Alaska Schools; you can make the email short and to the point.

What’s up in the political process (by Great Alaska Schools)

The House – Passed several bills that would generate new revenues to support a sustainable fiscal future:

·     SB26 restructures the Permanent Fund earnings,

·     HB115 reinstates a state income tax that would be the fourth lowest in the US, and

·     HB111 restructures the state oil tax.

Together, these bills can sustain a reasonable level of spending without deep cuts to services.

The Senate – Passed its version of SB26 – Restructure of the Permanent Fund Earnings. (They also did this last year, but it did not pass the House.)

The bottom line: There is no consensus between House and Senate on a balanced plan (restructuring of the Permanent Fund earnings, broad-based tax, targeted cuts for efficiency, restructured state oil taxes) and the 5.7 % education cut the Senate proposes would have dire consequences.

Action…

We all need to speak out!

1. Make phone calls and send emails and letters to the editor encouraging the Senate to pass a broad-based tax, and to eliminate the Education cuts. On the table for revenue are SB26, HB115, and HB111. And the operating budget is also in contention – details below. (Click here for legislators’ contact information)

2. Reach out to others:

o   Explain the BIG PICTURE of the budget gap (this video has a nice overview)

o   Explain how it affects our entire economy and interests (elderly, health care, safety, etc.)

o   Ask them to write and call their legislators. Here is a video about why we need to do it all now.

3. Stay informed

– Check our Facebook page regularly…Great Alaska Schools, plus specific pages for Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Mat-Su. Would you like one for your area? Email [email protected]

– Follow Twitter – @GreatAKSchools

– Read our email updates. Feel free to send any questions or concerns to [email protected]

More background: The House and Senate need to resolve the differences between their respective versions of SB26 (Permanent Fund) and the Senate needs to take action to pass acceptable versions of HB115 (Income Tax) and HB111 (Oil Tax). The House and Senate also need to agree on an Operating Budget that currently includes a nearly 6% cut to K-12 Public Education spending, 100% of Early Learning, and significant cuts to the University system, passed by the Senate.

The Senate Majority’s approach of deep cuts to services without new, broad-based revenues, will lead to more job losses and to a deepening recession. Plus, our schools have seen enough cuts in recent years; what they need now is stable and predictable funding.

 

By | 2017-05-03T10:57:31+00:00 April 19th, 2017|Action Alert, Advocacy|0 Comments

About the Author:

Pat Watt has been a LWV member (on and off) for almost 50 years. She is currently Chair of the LWVJ Communications Committee, and Chairs the Website Subcommittee.