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Big Budget Lacks Direction

Dear Neighbors,

Big Budget Lacks Direction

The Operating Budget was on the House Floor this week after rigorous debate before the full body and in the House Finance committee. It passed without my vote. The House Majority chose to leave money on the table that provides real meaningful investments in Alaska:  investments in her people

Since sitting on the House Finance committee, I’ve told you about the grim outlook we faced while reviewing the budget. Billions of significant savings were put away over the last few years to offset the volume and price of oil and federal government funds which drive our budget. But the budget is more than just dollars and cents - it is a moral document. It is a document that reflects our priorities and our values. It represents what we believe, as a legislature, are the most important investments to move our state forward. I voted against the budget, not just because of the sheer size, but because it did not focus on my major priorities of creating opportunity, expanding the economy and restoring freedoms.

The big elephant in the room, that lawmakers were not able to discuss, were the tax breaks for big oil corporations that are currently being rushed through the Senate. These tax breaks will immediately result in billions of lost revenue and a budget that dips further into our savings accounts. While the oil industry makes record profits, the legislature is considering these massive tax cuts that will sacrifice communities, families and energy priorities across this state.

Now the Operating Budget has been sent to the Senate, to review, cut, restore and approve a budget that I hope will better suit the needs of the state. Maybe they will align themselves with priorities of pre-K to UA education, recognize the needs and benefits of investing in behavioral health, and remain strong in the vision of a bright and healthy future for the state. Please contact your Senate Finance Committee members today!

Progress Needed for Gas Trucking Proposals

There has been movement on the proposal for an LNG trucking project that will primarily help Fairbanks, but could provide energy relief to a lot of Interior villages as well. Earlier this week, the Chair of the Labor and Commerce committee held public testimony for this bill and no one showed up. He made a simple plea: if a bill that will cost $50million were to advance from the committee, there should be public support for it. So, with the work of many individuals and the Interior Delegation, the public rose to the occasion and showed up en masse for the hearing on Wednesday.

I look forward to reviewing the bill in the Finance Committee next week. The bill may not be everything that we need right now, but it is a huge first step forward until a larger and more complex pipeline can be built through Fairbanks. If you would still like to support this bill, send your comments via email to Rep. Olson: rep.kurt.olson@akleg.gov before the day is up or to my office directly.

I’m proud to be here representing the City of Fairbanks and your interests. Please consider my office a resource as we move into the last month of the session – one that will surely be fast and furious.

Working Hard for Fairbanks Families,

[SIGNED]

1 Rep. Kawasaki pauses for a moment on the House Floor during closing comments on the Operating Budget. Click the picture to hear these comments.Scott Kawasaki
Alaska State Representative
District 4 - Fairbanks

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