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30th Session of the Alaska State Legislature

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Alaska State Legislature, House District 31

From the Desk of Representative Seaton:
December 18, 2017
 
Happy Holidays!
Before the New Year I want to share with you my vision for this upcoming legislative session. 
 
The Governor released his FY 2019 budget proposal on Friday, December 15. We are beginning to analyze it to see how it fits with our goals, especially education funding. If you missed his news conference you can watch it here. The Governor’s proposed budget is just the initial step in the budget process. On January 16, 2018, the legislature will convene in Juneau and we will begin our work revising the budget. A budget always has changes after passing through House and Senate committees and floor sessions. Then it must go through conference committee to get to the Governor’s desk. The Governor then can line item veto any changes made in the legislature, but he can only veto items.  He can’t add any additional items or money.
 
There is more information on the Governor’s budget below. Please contact my office if you have any questions.
 
The state’s financial outlook is about the same as last year. The state’s General Fund budget for FY19 is approximately $4.7 billion and our revenue is expected to come in at $2 billion. That leaves a $2.7 billion budget deficit. The Senate has rejected the Sustainable Fiscal Plan the House passed last session and seems clearly opposed to diversifying revenue sources. With no new revenues, one choice for balancing the budget is more cuts, which will likely pass financial responsibilities down to municipal levels. Cutting state funding does not make the need for services go away.  The only other options are an unsustainable draw from the Earnings Reserve or using the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR) along with a sustainable 5.25% Percent of Market Value (POMV) draw from the Earnings Reserve.
 
My goals for the FY19 budget are to finish on time, make only efficiency cuts while maintaining the level of services we have in FY18, limit a CBR draw to leave $1 billion, and ensure that a draw from the Earnings Reserve is sustainable. Experts agree we need to leave $1 billion in the CBR for emergencies (current balance of the CBR is $2.1 billion).
 
My role as the Finance Committee Co-chair continues into this 2nd session of the 30th Legislature where I will again oversee the Operating Budget process. One of my priorities is a separate Education Appropriation Bill which we plan to put forward ahead of the rest of the budget. The House Majority is firm about not reducing K-12 education funding. This early appropriation would provide enough money to fully fund the current Base Student Allocation (BSA), pupil transportation and vital K-12 boarding school support.  The appropriation would use a combination of the Statutory Budget Reserve (SBR) funds and a draw from the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR).  This would leave the CBR with the $1 billion needed to act as our cash flow management tool.  Early funding of education ensures our school districts will have secured funds early enough to avoid pink slips and layoffs of staff while we work on passing the full FY19 budget. 
 
In response to recent events both nationally and within our own state legislature, I wanted to assure you that I and the House Majority are committed to updating harassment policies and trainings.  This process will be taken on early in the session, so all legislators and staff have a clear understanding of workplace policies and are comfortable reporting incidents at the time of occurrence.

Tina and I wish you and your families a wonderful holiday and best wishes for the coming new year.
 
In case you missed my recent presentations…
Governor’s FY19 Budget - Summary
Here are some links to general overviews of the Governor’s FY19 budget:
  • Office of Management and Budget website
  • 2017 Revenue Source Book
  • Operating Budget:  $4.8 billion all General Funds for agency and statewide items such as debt service and state retirement ($520 million less than current year.)  Click here for a District 31 summary. 
  • Capital Budget:  $150 million Unrestricted General Funds (UGF) used to match $1.13 billion in other grants and federal dollars, for a total capital budget of $1.28 billion ($150 million less than current year.)  Click here for a District 31 summary. 
  • 2018 PFD:  appropriated $818.8 million ($1216 estimated per person)
  • Economic Recovery Plan  the governor is proposing the following three bills:
    • Limited Payroll Tax that expires after 3 years:  1.5% of wages or 1.5% of net earnings from self-employment.  PFD, investments and some other income would be exempt. $320 million revenue projected annually; 15% of which would be from nonresidents.  If passed, the tax would start Jan. 1, 2019, so projected revenue would be half, or $160 million, in FY19.
    • Economic Recovery Act: would use the payroll tax revenue to pay for deferred maintenance projects around the state over the three-year tax collection period. The governor’s deferred maintenance projects in District 31: Kenai Peninsula College $943,000; Kachemak Bay Campus $222,000; Homer Ferry Terminal $150,000; Kenai courthouse $193,000; Municipal Harbor Facility Grants fund; Emergency Medical Service Match for Code Blue; weatherization programs; senior citizen housing programs. The above recovery plan link will provide more detail.            
    • Oil and Gas Tax Credits:  the state would pay off small oil company tax credits, financing this through discounted state bonds.
  • Budget Reform: Governor is proposing legislation that would restructure the state’s budget process from annual to biennial.  In addition, it would penalize the legislature if they failed to complete the budget by the statutory deadline (90 days) instead of the constitutional deadline (120 days plus 10 day extension).
CAPSIS
Similar to the last three years, I do not anticipate any available funding for community capital projects entered through the CAPSIS system due to our state’s fiscal deficit and need for a sustainable budget.  However, I recognize that it can still be helpful for some organizations and municipalities to enter these projects to keep the state informed of community needs.  For those wishing to enter a capital project into CAPSIS, the system is now open.  The deadline is 5pm February 12, but if you would like my staff Jenny to review your request before you submit it, please enter into CAPSIS by January 31.  You can contact Jenny for any CAPSIS questions including login information.
 
I enjoyed listening to the Homer High School choir during the Share the Spirit fundraiser last week! Wonderful to see all these talented students
and all the great volunteers. 

 
District News

With close to 3” of rain in the district last week, icy roads have been an ongoing safety issue this winter. The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities maintains roadways for the State according to a priority list (click here for interactive map.)  Our Central Region lost 2 Equipment Operators in the FY17 budget, reducing our Homer and Anchor Point staff from 7 to 5. Several residents have contacted our office regarding dangerous conditions on the unpaved portion of the North Fork Road so I contacted DOT for more information. DOT maintains all the North Fork Rd, as well as Nikolaevsk Road, at the same priority level. While it may seem that the middle, unpaved portion of the road gets less attention, DOT has assured our office that is not the case. That section of the North Fork lacks solar warming from pavement and has extensive grades which make it more difficult to maintain. DOT has been spreading D1 gravel on that portion of the roadway instead of sand (D1 will stay on the road surface longer than sand will).  The maintenance of our roads is a safety issue, and I appreciate hearing from residents about which roads need attention.  With the reduction in the maintenance budget over the last several years, expect some delays in sanding and plowing, especially in bad weather conditions. Please drive cautiously, check the KPBSD web page for school delays and closures, and also road conditions at Alaska 511,  For maintenance issues on Kenai Peninsula Borough maintained roads, please contact 907-262-4427.
 
Update: as of 11am today, the Seward highway at mile 105 has been reopened after the rock slide (just north of Indian between Anchorage and Girdwood).  For updates go to:  Alaska 511.

Congratulations to Homer Council on the Arts for the award of a Rasmuson Foundation Grant of $130,500 towards construction of a yurt for performances and events. Click here for a full list of recipients.
 
Congratulations to local Homer artists Deland Anderson and Deb Lowney who’s artwork was chosen for the Alaska Contemporary Art Bank by the Alaska State Council on the Arts.  Their artwork will now be available for display in public offices around the state. I hope my office will get to be one of them!
 
Anchor Point and Deep Creek storm damage
Several constituents have contacted me about the damage done by recent storms in the Anchor River parking lot and Deep Creek beach campground areas.  Jack Blackwell, Dept. Natural Resources District Park Superintendent for our area, is keeping my office updated on progress to secure federal FEMA dollars to help restore these damaged areas.  Currently DNR engineers are assessing the damage to see if it meets federal criteria.  If it does, the state will amend the Seward Disaster Declaration to include Anchor Point and Deep Creek, since the damage all occurred from the same storm. 
 

Meet the Staff

I am pleased to introduce a new staff joining my team this year, Elizabeth Diament.  Elizabeth joins Jenny in my Homer office and both will be heading to Juneau with me in early January.  My finance staff, Joan Brown and Arnold Liebelt, continue on in their positions in my Juneau office.  I am also pleased to welcome Patricia Nickell-Zimmerman as our University of Alaska intern during the session. Please don’t hesitate to ask my staff any questions you might have; their contact information can be found at the end of every newsletter and through my website. 

New staff! Elizabeth Diament
Elizabeth has lived in Homer for 14 years. She has worked at multiple fishing lodges, Fritz Creek General Store and most recently for the US Census Bureau.  She is also an active member of the local community. This will be her first year working for the legislature.
Bits & Pieces:

Public Comment:  Alaska Marijuana Control Board
AMCB proposes to adopt regulatory changes dealing with financial background and residency requirements.
Deadline to comment: 4:30 pm, January 11, 2018
Send comments to:  amco.regs@alaska.gov
Questions: (907) 269-0350
 
Public Comment: Department of Fish and Game
ADF&G proposes to adopt regulation changes dealing with fees for access permits to the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary and the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary: 
Deadline to comment: 5:00 p.m. on January 19, 2018
Send comments to:  joe.meehan@alaska.gov
Questions: (907) 267-2281
 
Better Business Bureau Seeking Student Applicants for Integrity Scholarship
$10,000 scholarship to a student who personifies and communicates ethics in the real world, as demonstrated through community service, personal integrity, and academic accomplishments. The scholarship money can be used toward any university, community college or trade school of the student’s choice. February 13, 2018 application deadline.
 

Rep. Paul Seaton

Thanks for signing up for my newsletter and engaging in the public process. I try to keep you abreast of issues, bills, and other state and District 31 events where YOU have an opportunity to participate.

 

Contact Us

If you would like to speak to me regarding a specific issue, it is helpful to first get in touch with the member of my staff handling related issues. 

Homer: May-December
270 W. Pioneer Ave., Homer AK 99603
907-235-2921 or 1-800-665-2689; Fax: 907-235-4008

Juneau: January-April
State Capitol – 120 4th St., Juneau, AK 99801
New location: Room 505
907-465-2689 or 1-800-665-2689

Kenai: 907-283-9170 (will transfer automatically to Homer or Juneau)

Rep. Paul Seaton Rep.Paul.Seaton@akleg.gov
website:  http://akhouse.org/rep_seaton/

Jenny Martin Jenny.Martin@akleg.gov
Constituent issues and questions, General Capital & Operating Budget information,CAPSIS requests, Personal Legislation

Elizabeth Diament Elizabeth.Diament@akleg.gov
Legislation & Sustainable Fiscal Plans in House Finance, Personal Legislation

Arnold Liebelt Arnold.Liebelt@akleg.gov
Operating Budget, Finance Subcommittees

Joan Brown Joan.Brown@akleg.gov (starting again Jan. 2, 2018)
Operating Budget, Finance Subcommittees

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Copyright © 2017 Rep. Paul Seaton, All rights reserved.


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