Rep. Kawasaki Juneau Note - 27th Legislature - Volume 10
April 6, 2011
With a short, 90-day session, the Legislature is stumbling through the last few days with haste. It is at such a pace, that this email will be out-dated by the time you finish reading my notes. I’ll try to keep this message brief, but will also update you as things progress through these final days of session.
Committee Rooms Closing Down
Most all committees are finalizing their schedules and hearings bills for the last time this session. My three committees- Resources Committee, Education and the Fisheries Committee are powering through the final bills left in queue and should wrap-up shortly. The Finance Committees are still meeting because they still have more than 100 bills left to go! Most will not pass this year, but there are several bills that I expect to consider before adjournment.
What’s Left To Do
The large Issues still on the table for the end of session are constitutionally mandated budgets, the Governors oil tax bill and the performance scholarship bill.
- The operating budget has been passed by both bodies, but needs to have the differences between the two versions ironed out in a conference committee. The senate worked hard to fix many of the funding gaps and discrepancies in Pre-K funding, merit based scholarship and university funding. I still believe though that the $9-billion budget is too high-that’s why I voted against it.
- The capital budget has not yet taken shape but we expect to see the Senate version by the end of the week. I have submitted several important and needed Fairbanks projects and push for them to be included in the final budget. The capital budget tends to be one of the last items passed by the Legislature.
· The Governor’s oil tax break - at the beginning of session I informed you of the controversy that this bill would cause this year. The bill moved over to the Senate and has only caused problems there. The Governor has now accused the Senate of refusing to work with him and has become “abusive” threatening to veto projects in Senators district as retaliation.
· The performance scholarship bill, it seems that the administration is not ready to give every kid in Alaska equitable opportunity. The Governor has fought any changes to the performance scholarship to incorporate a needs based component. With limited government resources, we should not be giving financial aid to kids who don’t necessarily need it and were going to go to college anyway. Our focus needs to be on the underfunded needs-based AlaskaAdvantage program while the Department works to ensure every Alaskan has the ability to go to college through needs based opportunities.
As always, I appreciate your input. If you have any comments or questions as we wrap up this year’s session, please feel free to contact me.
Working Hard for Fairbanks Families,Scott Kawasaki
Alaska State Representative