On March 13, the House passed HB 266, its version of the FY 2015 operating budget. The House is proposing a budget of $9.1 billion, including $5.82 billion in state general funds, $2 billion in federal funds and $1.3 billion from other sources. The budget reflects a $1.3 billion reduction in general fund spending from the current fiscal year.
HB 266 has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration. Hearings on the budget bill start Wednesday, March 19.
Omnibus budget bill
On March 14, the Senate Education Committee, which I chair, passed the governor’s omnibus education bill, SB 139, out of committee. Components of the bill include increasing the Base Student Allocation by $85 in the next fiscal year, increasing access to charter schools and repealing the Alaska High School Graduation Qualifying Exam.
SB 139 will be heard next by the Senate Finance Committee.
Wood-Tikchik State Park hydroelectric bill pulled
On March 14, SB 32, a bill that would have given the Department of Natural Resources the authority to issue a special use permit in the Wood-Tikchick State Park to conduct a feasibility study for a hydroelectric site at Chikuminuk Lake was pulled. The bill is no longer needed as developers are pursuing other options.
SB 32’s language was rolled into HB 77, but was removed at the request of myself, Sen. Lyman Hoffman of Bethel, and Rep. Bryce Edgmon of Dillingham.
PFD deadline day
If you have not already done so, I encourage you to file your application for this year’s Permanent Fund Dividend. The deadline to file is March 31. The easiest way to apply is though the PFD Division’s website at www.pfd.state.ak.us. You can also stop by the Legislative Information Offices in Cordova, Dillingham and Kodiak if you would like to get a paper application.
Tracking bills and resolutions
You can follow the status of any legislation online with the Bill Action and Status Inquiry System (BASIS). Through BASIS, you can see what committee a bill is in, when it will be heard, how committee members voted and much more. You can also view all bills relating to your specific areas of interest by selecting “Subject Summary” from the menu.
You can find Basis at www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/start.asp.
District R visitors to the capitol
It has been great to see many constituents in the capitol building this year. Recent visitors include Bill Hill and Ty Maze, who came to Juneau on behalf of the Bristol Bay Borough School District; Tim Joyce and Nicole Songer of Cordova; Rebecca Sheilds of Kodiak; Alex Russin, superintendent of the Lower Yukon School District; and David Brighton of Tyonek.
Please make it a point to stop by my office for a visit if you plan to be in Juneau during session.
Keep in touch
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the many issues we are working on in Juneau. You can reach me by phone at 1-800-821-4925 and in Juneau at 465-4925. My fax number is 465-3517.
My mailing address is Sen. Gary Stevens, Alaska State Legislature, 120 Fourth Street, State Capitol, Room 3, Juneau, AK 99801
You can email me at email@example.com.