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February 4, 2021
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 32nd Legislative session began with a bang as executive orders from the new Federal Administration have raised concerns about federal overreach in Alaska. With the third week of session in full swing, I am assessing all avenues to address the issues important to you, our neighbors, and the whole state of Alaska.
Though things look different this year with fewer opportunities for in-person meetings, I want to assure you that I value your feedback about the issues that face our state this year.
Please feel free to email me (mailto:[email protected]) anytime or call my office at 907-465-3879 to share your thoughts and concerns.
As always, I'm honored to serve and represent our neighbors in District M and wish you a happy, healthy week!
Work Begins Evaluating Governors Budget
Though the State has reduced Unrestricted General Fund (UGF) expenditures by 43% over the last 10 years and increased revenue by setting up a structured draw from the Permanent Fund, we still face a substantial structural deficit.
As required by law, the Governor released his FY22 budget proposal to the public and the Legislature on Dec. 15th, 2020. The FY22 budget request is smaller than the FY21 budget (excepting the Permanent Fund Dividend) but still leaves a deficit of over $2 billion ([link removed]) , which is filled by an additional draw from the Permanent Fund. The Governor also proposes to draw an additional $1.2 billion from the Permanent fund for a second dividend payment in FY21, for a total of $3.2 billion in withdraws from the fund.
In the short-term, the Governor says these draws are necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In FY23, he calls for balancing the budget by adding $1.2 billion of unspecified new revenue, reducing the dividend draw by $400 million, and further reducing agency operations.
The Legislature faces dual problems: a state struggling with a historic pandemic that has caused record unemployment and economic hardship and a long-term budget crisis that has drained the State's budget reserves. Regardless of which direction we go, the Legislature faces difficult choices that will have a lasting effect on future generations.
Click here for the Senate Finance Meeting on the Governors FY22 Budget ([link removed]) .
I am happy to report that in the month of February, the State of Alaska will receive 59,600 new doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, Alaskans age 65 and above, healthcare workers, long-term care residents and staff, and a limited number of other groups are eligible to receive it. To find out if you are eligible or to book an appointment, click here ([link removed]) .
On January 25th of this year, the governor introducedlegislation to extend the COVID-19 emergency declaration ([link removed]) order until September 30th. The current order, which allows for temporary changes to state law in response to the coronavirus pandemic, is set to expire on February 14th. Any extension of such a declaration for more than 30 days is subject to approval by both the Senate and the House.
Overall, the daily rate of new cases has been trending downward ([link removed]) for the past two months. I commend your effort and the many sacrifices you have made during this challenging time. For more information about anything COVID-19 related, The Department of Heath and Social Services maintains a continually updated site which you can access by clicking here ([link removed]) .
The Senate Resources Committee that I chair held its first meeting on Wednesday, January 27th. We heard a North Slope oil and gas overview from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. It included updates on projects on the horizon, federal leases, the ANWR lease sale, and information on the new federal administration's executive orders.
We have a full schedule ahead of us for this session and I will continue to do my utmost to responsibly develop our resources while generating jobs and revenue for Alaska.
All of the Resource Committee meeting dates, video recordings, and supporting documents can be found on akleg.gov or by clicking ([link removed]) here ([link removed]) .
Celebrating Black History Month
"I prefer to be true to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence." -Frederick Douglass, The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass
In honor of Black History Month, I have been reviewing the work of one of my favorite American reformers, Frederick Douglass. A social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman, Frederick Douglass escaped enslavement and became a national leader of the abolitionist movement for the remainder of his life. He lived as an example of staying true to himself and his convictions and he challenges me every day to live up to that standard. My deepest thanks go out to all the reformers who have advanced civil liberties in America throughout history and those who continue to do so today. Our nation is a better place because of reformers like Frederick Douglass.
As of December 31, 2020, the first six months of the fiscal year 2021, the Alaska Permanent Fund's total value was $71.8 billion.
The Principal totaled $57.8 billion, consisting of two parts:
* $46.7 billion in permanent savings contributions
* $11.1 billion in unrealized gains.
The Earnings Reserve Account totaled $14.0 billion, consisting of three parts:
* $8.2 billion of uncommitted realized earnings
* $3.1 billion of committed realized earnings to the FY22 POMV draw
* $2.7 billion in unrealized gains
For permanent fund monthly financial statements and history & projections reports from the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, click here ([link removed]) . To contact APFC for further information email [email protected] or call 907-796-1500.
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Session: State Capitol, Room 125, Juneau, AK 99801
Interim: 1500 West Benson, Room 410, Anchorage, AK 99503
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