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Fairbanks Senator Joe Thomas to Serve Again on Budget Conference Committee

Three-Member Senate Committee Responsible for Crafting Final Version of Alaska State Budget

JUNEAU – Senator Joe Thomas, D-Fairbanks, today was named as a member of the committee which will negotiate the details of the state’s operating budget in the last few days of this year’s legislative session.

“I am pleased that the Senate leadership has again entrusted me with this important responsibility,” said Senator Thomas.  “Having served as a member of the Finance Committee since my election in 2006, I feel I can help craft a budget that will serve Alaskans well and is fiscally responsible.  As the only member of the committee from Interior Alaska, it will be my duty to represent the people, needs and interests of Alaska’s Interior communities.”

Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, today named the three-member Conference Committee on the Operating Budget – Senators Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, and Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, Co-Chairmen of the Senate Finance Committee, and Senator Thomas.  The three will join the three committee members from the House of Representatives – Finance co-chairmen Representative Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, and Representative Les Gara, D-Anchorage.  The six-person committee is charged with hammering out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the state operating budget before the legislative session ends on April 18th and presenting a budget to Governor Sean Parnell.

“I’m very pleased to have been able to insert several important budget items for Fairbanks into the Senate version of the Operating Budget,” stated Senator Thomas.  “I’ll be fighting to preserve these items in the final version of the budget.”

‘Conference-able” Interior Alaska Priorities in the Senate Version of the FY11 Operating Budget

· Department of Health and Social Services: $250,000 increase to the Human Services Community Matching Block Grant

o Fairbanks non-profits leverage $19 for every $1 in state general funds

· University of Alaska:  $75,000 for Alaska Summer Research Academy

· University of Alaska:  $150,000 for Math and Summer Bridge Programs

o These two programs prepare young Alaskans to enter college and are strongly supported by alumni and parents

· Department of Administration:  Alaska Land Mobile Radio Intent Language

o The House changed $150,000 in general funds for the radio system into program receipts, which would require local public safety agencies to cover costs of these radios.  The radios are used by local fire and police departments, as well as volunteer fire departments and city and borough emergency crews. The Senate version does NOT require local agencies to cover the costs of the radio system.

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